The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus: Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World

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Tatiana Newman
Mr. Evans
Book Report #1 (Summer Assignment)
8/1/12
The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus:
Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World
This summer I chose to read The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus: Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World by Jacques Cousteau and Susan Schiefelbein. The book is a passionate collection of stories of adventure as well as a warning to people about the dangers the human race poses towards ocean life. Cousteau was able to make a book like this because his career involved being both an explorer and an activist. Besides that, in his lifetime, he made documentaries linked to marine science. Schiefelbein helped Cousteau with his documentary work and currently works as an environmental activist. With these attributes given to the authors, I expected an exceptional story—and was not disappointed.

As I’ve stated before, the book holds both tales of adventure and warnings against hurting the ocean. Cousteau begins his book by noting that he started being interested in exploration at a very young age. His love for exploration was not altered by the challenges he faced. Some of his adventures were illustrated with physical dangers like run-ins with sharks, but he also noted the public as being another obstacle he had to face. People who undermined the seriousness of harmful chemicals in the environment (such as using dioxin in pesticides) were referred negatively by Cousteau as “Squawkers.” He called on people to recognize that water and air were really irreplaceable resources, and used science and religious texts to stress the importance of keeping these resources healthy. He speaks of the ocean respectfully and finds the human race absolutely responsible for its well keeping. Cousteau constantly reprimands society’s use of all chemicals (from pesticides to nuclear war elements) in the environment and uses personal testimonies and scientific fact to get this point across.

Marine science is the study of the...
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