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Just back from a trip to the Arctic aboard the Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise, celebrated British actress Emma Thompson joins us to talk about visiting the Canadian town of Clyde River, which has been leading efforts against the oil industry blasting the Arctic in its search for oil and gas. Two years ago, Thompson joined another Greenpeace expedition to protest drilliCoxy7yqXYAAtfITng in the Arctic and to research the impact climate change has already had on the region.
“I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know quite how bad it was, until the most extraordinary marine biologist, called Lindy Weilgart, who specializes in the effect of seismic blasting upon marine mammals, gave a lecture on it. And it involves the pushing out of extremely high-pressured shots of air. It’s noise. It’s sound. And the sound has to travel over thousands of kilometers, hit whatever it can find, and come back to the ship, in order to—it’s prospecting, really, to see where they can drill for oil and gas.

Now, marine mammals basically see through their ears, so the effect of seismic blasting, because the noise it makes is equivalent to half a [kilogram] of dynamite going off—it’s like an underground volcano. It’s 260 decibels, and it happens every 10 seconds, for months on end, without cease. And so, you can imagine the effect upon these large mammals, who use their ears, really, to see, to communicate, to organize, to—it’s how they live. So, it’s a disastrous thing.

And, of course, the ultimate irony is that the region is melting because of oil and gas being overused. So, the oil and gas companies, instead of saying, “We have an eco-disaster happening here. Let’s stop,” are clapping their hands, piling in, prospecting for more of the stuff that melted the place in the first instance. So, if you see what I mean, it’s a kind of cataclysmic carousel of greed and destruction.”