Posted by: Celine Cousteau | February 18, 2011

Chile- “Oceano” Part 7- Atacama Desert

When I think of the Chilean oceans, my mind does not necessarily wander to the Atacama desert, and yet we traveled here to film an episode for the “Oceano” documentary TV series I am co-hosting. The ocean and the desert are undeniably connected.

Fresh water, salt water; industries and communities pulling on the same resource.

Speaking with Sonya about water issues. ©Çapkin van Alphen - CauseCentric Productions

It is here that the simplest and yet very powerful words were uttered to me by a local indigenous woman, Sonya- “The (mining) companies need water to make the industry work. We need water to live.”

So true and seemingly so simple. Yet the answer is not so simple. In order to find reason we assign blame. But are we not, each of us, a part of this blame? We buy what the (mining) companies provide: copper, zinc, silver, gold, coal, oil, rare earth metals, iron ore, bauxite, platinum, nickel, plutonium, precious stones, and the list goes on.

Where does the blame stop and where does responsibility take over? More important than assigning blame is how to answer the crucial question- now what? I only wish I had the answers.

Moving forward is key and one mining company has decided to spend billions to build a desalinization plant to feed their need for water. Perhaps this example can put pressure on the rest of the industry, alleviating the impact on fresh water resources necessary for life. This is not a perfect solution, but it is a step forward. We do not yet know what the long-term impacts will be on the ocean with an increased demand on sea water.

Concentric circles in a scarce resource. ©Céline S Cousteau - CauseCentric Productions

While in the desert we took a ride on horseback to film the Valle de la Muerte and its sand dunes. We want the public to be inspired by the places we visit and so we wander the landscapes capturing it’s beauty… and there is no reason to not have a good laugh while we are at it too. We grabbed snowboards to try our hand at sand boarding. This is not your bunny slope with fluffy flakes! A camera affixed to the front of my board and holding another one in my hand, I took a deep breath and lunged my body forward. A short-lived attempt. Brushing the sand from my hips, I tried again and this time I went sailing smoothly down…until I was sailing no more but flying. I achieved a full frontal flip, landing, laughing, a mouth full of sand- camera still in hand. After all, if it’s not on film, it didn’t happen!

In the midst of the Valle de la Muerte. ©Çapkin van Alphen - CauseCentric Productions

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