WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Experts from both sides of the off-shore drilling debate gave their opinions at a forum on Tuesday night.
Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of famous diver Jacques Cousteau, and John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil, spoke to a sold-out crowd at Cape Fear Community College's Wilson Center.
The event was hosted by CFCC, UNCW, and Cape Fear Realtors and focused on creating open dialogue between opposing sides.
Each speaker was able to present information about off-shore drilling, then answered questions from the audience.
Cousteau focused on the damages caused by the practice.
"How do we put a price on this?" Cousteau asked. "We tend to forget what happened to all of the damage that it did to the marine environment and still does today. What happens to all of these chemicals, which have been thrown on the coastline affecting everything on land as well?"
Cousteau also encouraged people to look into alternative forms of energy other than oil.
"We can disappear like any other species and nature doesn't care," he said. "We are the only species on the planet, plants or animals, above or below the water, that has the privilege to decide not to disappear. The time is now."
Hofmeister agreed oil could not sustain the U.S. alone, but that the jobs and profit it creates means more exploration needs to be done.
"This is about a business that has to make money to pay the bills, to pay the workers, to make the investment necessary," he said. "There is so much that we don't know, but I think the industry needs to know. The nation needs to know. This is not for the sake of the industry. The industry is a part of the process along the way. This is about the nation's energy security for the future."
Cousteau and Hofmeister spoke to students at CFCC and UNCW respectively earlier in the afternoon.