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Interview with Greta Scaachi

Aired May 13, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I want to introduce you now to an environmental campaigner who, for years, has been warning that the world's oceans are imperiled. Actress turned activist Greta Scaachi is the -- at the helm of a campaign to save the planet's endangered fish stocks and last year raised awareness, posing naked with only an Icelandic cod to cover her modesty.

Well, she's voiced deep concern about the future of bluefin tuna, a rare species, of which -- does actually spawn in the Gulf of Mexico, the area affected by the BP oil spill.

And Greta joins me now.

On a scale of one to 10, how do you see this as a -- as an ecological disaster, as it were?

GRETA SCAACHI, ENVIRONMENTAL CAMPAIGNER: It is devastating, absolutely devastating. But it's not something that's so inconceivable or unexpected. You know, if -- if you drill for oil, then it will spill. And if it doesn't spill from a leak in the rig, it could spill in transportation. And, anyway, if it reaches its destination safely, let's say, then it's going to be implemented in a way where it spews CO2 back into the environment. And that will affect the ecology everywhere and it will get back to the sea.

So, actually, this disaster, in an environmental -- from an environmental point of view, is, if anything, as terrible as it is, it's an opportunity to draw media attention to a fact that is already there. There's a measure of destruction that his happening simply because our society relies -- is addicted to fossil fuels.

ANDERSON: The oil industry is a very, very powerful lobby, as we know.

Can you or are you determined that -- that -- that we will see some less offshore drilling going forward as a result of this?

I mean you see politicians talking at the moment. They've talked in the past.

SCAACHI: Well, the more I read and research this -- this -- this sort of thing, first of all, in relation to the -- the safety of the environment for human life and then realizing how much that is part of -- of all nature and all living things, I -- I feel that all the information, scientific and so on, suggests that it is only the fragile ecology of the economics and politics of the powers in this world that are preventing the good sense of seeing what is actually happening. We're blinkered because of the lifestyle that we rely on.

ANDERSON: Greta Scaachi is your Connector of the Day.

Robert Gonzalez from Venezuela has written in. And he says: "Greta, after all the devastating damage to the ecology, do you think the U.S. government should continue giving exploration and production concessions due -- to BP in the future?"

SCAACHI: I think it would be a great idea of BP, which must be very, very wealthy and have made so much money over the years, it seems great that they are investing so much in cleaning up the spill. Perhaps they should really make a commitment and governments and industries should make a commitment to researching, developing and installing alternative forms of energy so the use of the natural, renewable sources, of which science says there is plenty.

There's plenty for us to go on. It just needs a commitment. And it needs those oil companies to be willing to find a way to give up -- possibly risk their powerful hold over us and maybe translate it into something that will be better, but less lucrative for them.

ANDERSON: BP has marketed itself as -- over, for a while, I guess the past decade, as one of the greener oil company -- companies out there.

Judith from the Hague in the Netherlands says: "We live in a world with an increasing demand for energy, Greta. This is not going to stop. Do you think that we can produce enough green energy that it could fulfill this demand?"

SCAACHI: Well, this is what my research tells me. And I'm now, since I've been involved more and more in this campaign, I can pick up the phone to some very good, reliable sources -- scientists and NGOs -- who are dedicated to this work.

And so, yes, the technology is there. Of course, it can be researched, developed and perfected. But enough of it is there for us to see our governments making a real commitment toward it and phasing out those -- those technologies that deal with dirty fuel.

As long as we keep playing with dirty energy and don't make a -- a very concerted effort to phase it out, then we're not going to secure livelihood for -- for living things on this planet...

ANDERSON: How about those...

SCAACHI: -- let alone humans.

ANDERSON: How about those who say that their livelihoods depend on the offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico?

SCAACHI: Well, I -- I -- I say to them, I mean I think it's absolutely shocking and devastating how acute the suffering must be for which -- fishermen on that coast right now. And I feel, you know, as -- as -- as upset as -- as we all do, from those -- from this dramatic news and these dramatic images.

But I feel that anyway, from what I understand about how we live and what we spew back into our environment, the sea was, anyway, very, very much at risk. I mean the -- the tuna, which really got me onto this campaign in the first place, is on the brink of extinction. And that's to do with over fishing, not specifically to do with -- with this particular oil spill, though unfortunately for the tuna, the -- the -- the Gulf of Mexico is -- this particular area of it, near Louisiana, is one of the favorite spawning grounds.

This happens to be the beginning of their spawning season. So this is when they've released their eggs, which are turning into larva, which are all perishing now. They're all -- they're in -- they are no doubt perishing, along with the plankton, which is the core foundation of the whole complex ecology of the ocean, which can't breathe with the oil over it.

But these things are very much threatened anyway by the increase in -- in the carbon in -- in our atmosphere. And a healthy ocean with an ecology that is intact and not being devastated by over fishing and the advanced technology which takes too much fish at vulnerable times...


SCAACHI: -- in their cycle and in their migration, it -- it will -- it -- it will lead to an ocean that will no longer have this complex makeup that includes a healthy plankton life near the surface, which is capable of absorbing, apparently, 50 percent of the carbon in our atmosphere.

ANDERSON: And with that, we're going to leave it there, because we've got to take a very short break and pay for what we are doing.

We thank you so much for coming in as our Connector of the Day.

SCAACHI: Thank you.