Jean-Michel Cousteau Dispatch - February 2018

February 13, 2018


Photo: Public Domain

It is with heavy hearts that we express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives during the devastating mudslides in Montecito this January. Montecito is close to our Ocean Futures Society headquarters. It is in times like these we are all reminded of the power of nature – from the Thomas fire that raced up our cherished coastlines and across the Santa Ynez Mountains, to the rainstorms that brought flooding and mudslides to the communities below. We are reminded how connected we are to the forces of our planet: the fire burned through vegetation, which in turn, left hillsides bare and vulnerable to the consequences of powerful rain. What followed was a catastrophe for those in the path of the water, mud, and debris that carved through valleys on its way to the sea.


Carpinteria Beach the morning after the mud slides. © Holly Lohuis

We also know that the mud and debris carried with it additional dangers on its way to the ocean. This week, researchers who have been testing mud and debris at disposal sites at Goleta and Carpentaria Beach have found high levels of fecal bacteria and chemical substances of gasoline and motor oil. These contamination risks from the mud create hazards not only for the people who live in Montecito, but also for those living downstream of the disposal sites. The entire coastal communities between Goleta and Carpinteria must now deal with the added stress of human-introduced toxins.

Our hope at Ocean Futures Society is that we, as a society and community, can learn from our mistakes. In what way can we better prepare so city planners will consider how their designs may influence future flooding and mudslide events? In what ways can our communities build resilience, so that we can find better ways to secure sewage, water and electrical infrastructure to withstand these periodic events? How can our actions strengthen our natural systems so they can be our allies, and help buffer our communities from the worst of these hazards? I know together we can find the solutions.

We are moved by the outpouring of support from our communities towards those most affected by these disastrous events. We share with you our emotional support, with an understanding of the deep loss that comes with losing loved ones, children, friends, family, and homes. We stand with our community, and we ask that all of us continue to question the ways in which we better protect our homes, our environment, and ourselves as we move further into a future of more extreme climate impacts.

Warm Regards,



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