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A Climate Change with Matt Matern
Climate Podcast

146: Captain Paul Watson's War on Illegal Whaling: A Hero's Journey

Guest Name(s): Captain Paul Watson

Matt speaks with Captain Paul Watson, the star of Whale Wars, a founder of Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace, to discuss his dedicated efforts against illegal whaling and fishing. He describes how he has rammed and sunk whaling ships that are illegally killing whales!

He advocates for significant systemic changes, including a global moratorium on industrialized fishing and the elimination of harmful agricultural chemicals.

Watson promotes a vegan lifestyle to reduce humanity’s ecological footprint.

Captain Paul Watson Foundation>>


Episode Categories:
Matt speaks with Captain Paul Watson, the star of Whale Wars, a founder of Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace, to discuss his dedicated efforts against illegal whaling and fishing.
Show Links:
At the heart of the Captain Paul Watson Foundation is a steadfast commitment to advancing the enduring vision of Captain Paul Watson—a vision deeply rooted in direct action for oceanic preservation. With a focus that spans from education to front-line conservation efforts, we document critical research and forge alliances that span NGOs, governments, and global institutions like the United Nations. Our agile team ensures that our mission remains pure and potent, free from the tangles of excess bureaucracy.
Sea Shepherd’s sole mission is to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. We work to defend all marine wildlife, from whales and dolphins, to sharks and rays, to fish and krill, without exception.
Captain Paul Watson

You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host. I’ve got Captain Paul Watson on the show today really excited to have Captain Paul back. Interviewed you about a year ago. And we’d love to catch up with you about what’s been happening and what what’s the adventure does your, for the, for your, for your life?

Well, we’re just getting ready to go to Iceland in June to stop the killing of endangered fin whales. And I’m quite confident we’ll be able to stop them, we’ll be sending three vessels there. And at the end of the year, we’re getting prepared for the possibility of the Japanese whaling fleet returning to the Southern Ocean. They haven’t been there for a few years, but they just completed the construction of, of a brand new factory ship. And the only purpose for that factory ship is to go to the Southern Ocean. So we’ll be prepared for them when they when they arrive.

Well, just to give the listeners a little bit of a background. You know, Captain Paul has, you know, was one of the founders of Greenpeace and then kind of got pushed out because he was a little bit too radical for Greenpeace, which I love and then started his own foundation, and did Sea Shepherd, and started the program Whale Wars, which was on TV for a number of years. The Whale Wars, I mean, the Sea Shepherd people kind of pushed you out, unfortunately, a hostile takeover. And then you started your own thing, the Captain Paul Watson foundation. So tell us a little bit about your journey and kind of what what started you on this journey protecting the environment?

Well, I really started when I was 10 years old, because I spent a summer swimming with a family of beavers. And then when I went back, the next year, when I was 11, the beavers were all gone. And I made me quite angry because I found trappers had taken them during the winter. So I thought winter began to walk the trap lines and free the animals and destroy the traps and 60 years on, I’m still doing the same thing.

Well, that’s an incredible story. So, you know, we had talked a little bit about the cops that you’ve been to and COP21. And how, you know, at that cop, I guess was in France, they barely were addressing the ocean. At that cop. I went to the COP28 in Dubai. And I was struck by how little of the cop was really focused on the ocean and protecting the ocean. Had, what was your take on COP28.

While it’s been taken over by the oil industry, I mean, the head of the oil company was was presiding over the whole thing. And basically, what they’re saying is that the solution to climate change is well just listen to the fossil fuel industry. They’ve got the answers, apparently. But that’s slowly been happening. I mean, what was the last year I think Coca Cola was a major sponsor, and it’s all become very commercialized. And quite frankly, nothing’s ever come out of that cop.

These COP conferences at all. I did go to COP21 in Paris and tried to speak about the ocean. But that had been that ocean forum had been taken over by the fishing industry. And I still remember one of the one of the sponsors going, while we’re very concerned about climate change, and its effect upon the movement of the product through the ocean, that’s going to affect our profitability. I mean, that’s kind of the way they’re looking at it. So I don’t think these cop conferences are going to address anything about climate change in a positive way.
Well, I guess, you know, I, I’m not quite as pessimistic on that front as you are, and that I believe that they did get a commitment out of these oil producing nations as well as oil companies that they would phase out fossil fuels. Now, the question is, whether that’s just talk and kind of distraction from, from what the action is on the ground, which is all of them drilling more.

So it’s all commitment said and promises had never materialized. It’s just distractions and putting it off. And we’re going to do this and 2030 we’re going to do this and 2035. And I can tell you right now 2030 comes along and they they’re not going to be doing it.

Right. Well, that’s, you know, I guess it’s up to all of us to kind of hold them and hold our politicians to to their word, which has been a challenging thing. And unfortunately, the promises that come out of COP are not necessarily legally binding, and that’s without a legally binding prop.

Promise, just like the Paris Accords, have as many loopholes as a fishing net. It’s just hard to enforce. worse with what the promises were, were?

Well, I remember at COP21. the Darlene, leader, governmental leader, there was a Justin Trudeau he was going to do this he was going to do that he was going to be make all these commits. While he made all these commitments and everything, he went back. And since he’s been Prime Minister ever since he’s done nothing except support the tar sands, oil tankers, pipelines, putting pipelines through native communities. You know, it’s been a total disaster.

So it’s sort of like you get elected, they take you to the backroom and the fossil fuel industry tells you what, what reality is. And it’s do what we tell you or else, pretty much every government in the world is pretty is in the pocket of some some corporation, mostly the fossil fuel corporations.

Well, certainly they’re the richest and the most powerful among the polluting class. But the plastics industry is not too far behind them. What do you see, is there any progress being made regarding plastics? Well, plastic is also the fossil fuel industry. But you know, it’s still there, and it’s not getting any better. I mean, plastic was a design flaw right from the very beginning.

You know, it’s been nothing but trouble. I mean, we don’t even we don’t even see where the majority of the plastic comes from, you know, people say, Well, I don’t use those plastic straws, because you know, if you really want to make a difference, meanwhile, 40% of all of the plastic in the ocean comes from the fishing industry. And a great deal of the plastic actually comes from everybody’s automobile tires, every time those micro plastic pieces that come off on the roads and get washed down into the ocean, people don’t even think about that. So it’s, it’s not going away.

And we have to eliminate plastic as a product altogether, I think the only thing that needs to survive is like those kinds of things for the medical industry or whatever, which are rear replaceable. But other than that, most of us certainly all the single use plastic cups should be eliminated. But the problem is, is that the lobbying that goes into, you know, every time somebody comes up with a bill to ban single use plastic, you know, the the industry gets in there and start spending a lot of money and on politicians, and that gets defeated.

So that hasn’t made anything I think what we have to really address here is is the fact that we have a life support system on this planet. And that life support system, you know, regulates climate and temperature and provides the food we eat and provides the oxygen and the air that we breathe, and that all of that is controlled or maintained by a crew of engineers, all of the species that make it possible since 1950, there’s been a 40% diminishment in phytoplankton in the sea and phytoplankton provides up to 40% up to 70% of the oxygen in the air we breathe.

And why is it being diminished because we’re diminishing populations of whales and dolphins and seabirds. And they provide the nutrient base for the phytoplankton, the magnesium, the nitrogen and the and the iron in their feces, really. And when you diminish those species, you diminish the phytoplankton because all these pieces are literally the farmers of the ocean and their crop this phytoplankton and phytoplankton is the basis for all life. I mean, if I don’t like to disappears from the sea, we die. We don’t live on this planet without phytoplankton.

And that’s why I always say if the ocean dies, we die, and it is dying. And for the most part, people are completely unaware of it or choose to be unaware of it. And so that’s really the problem. Because the engineers that are keeping us all running everything from the worms and the bees and the trees and the fish and the whales. We’re killing them all off, we human beings, we’re just the passengers on spaceship Earth, but we’ve got a gun in our hand, and we’re shooting everything that moves. And unless we learn to live within the learning to live in harmony with all these other species is not going to end well. And there are three basic laws of ecology.

The first is a law of diversity, the strength of an ecosystem is dependent upon diversity within it. The second is the law of interdependence that all species within an ecosystem are interdependent with each other. And the third is a law of finite resources that there’s a limit to growth and a limit to carrying capacity and when we steal the carrying capacity from other species that causes diminishment, both in diversity and interdependence. And that leads to ecological collapse, let s say.

Tell us, what do you think are the top five things that you would recommend that we do individually or collectively to, to, you know, change the arc of, you know, history regarding the climate?

I think the most important thing is to protect biodiversity and interdependence. We got to shut down industrialized fishing operations. I said this at COP21. We need a 75 to 100 year moratorium on industrialized fishing, because we’re overfishing everything in the ocean. I mean, there is no sustainable fishing. It doesn’t exist, except in advertising and they’re selling the product. But so we have to really do that. out.

Plus, we have to stop using herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, fungicides and everything because that’s killing the, the very foundation of the life support system here. So I think really the the key to this is, is protecting diversity and interdependence. And those engineers, all of those species that are involved in that will actually, I think, be the solution to climate change. And we just have to restore diversity and interdependence. I think that’s the most important thing we can do.
One of that, and one of those pieces is obviously animal agriculture and wreaking havoc there. We’ll be back in just one minute you’re listening to A Climate Change with Matt Matern, and I’ve got Captain Paul Watson on the show and stay tuned.

You re listening to A Climate Change. I’ve got Captain Paul Watson on the program. We were just talking about protecting diversity, and interdependence. Tell us a little bit about the work that you do and and how that is protecting diversity and interdependence.

Well, what we’re doing is trying to protect endangered species in the ocean. And through direct intervention. And back in 1977, I developed a strategy which I call aggressive non violence, we’re not going to hurt anybody, but we’re going to aggressively intervene. And this has been very successful in stopping illegal whaling and sealing and illegal fishing operations throughout the world. And we just have to go out and do it.

I mean, the International Whaling Commission wasn’t able to shut down pirate whaling in the Atlantic for 10 years, no matter what they did, they couldn’t stop it. And I did it in six months, by just going out and first of all, I hunted down the worst and then most notorious vessel, rammed it in the harbor and sank it. And then, you know, later we sank half of Iceland’s whaling fleet in Reykjavik. Now all that might sound quite illegal, but we have to keep in mind that these operations themselves are illegal, there are criminal activities.

So after sinking half of Iceland’s whaling ship fleet in Reykjavik harbor, and destroying the wheel processing plant to $3 million damage we did to that I turned myself into the Icelandic authorities, and they refuse to arrest me. So there was no crime committed, because they not only didn’t charge me, they did not want to put me on trial, because to put me on trial would have been to put Iceland on trial for their illegal activities. Because all whaling has been illegal since 1986. All commercial whaling so, you know, this is what I mean, you just have to have the courage and the passion and the imagination to go in there and, you know, intervene.

And, and that’s what we’ve been doing. I mean, after 45 years of doing this, I’ve never been convicted of a criminal felony. And we’ve never lost a civil lawsuit against us. Because we operate within the boundaries of the law and within the boundaries of practicality. I mean, we get called a lot of names. I mean, I’ve copied and called a pirate, which, quite frankly, I’m quite proud of. But I you know, I get called Eco terrorists. But my answer to that is I’ve never worked for Monsanto.

So I’m not an eco terrorist. But you know, you just have to deal with all the name calling and all these all these bureaucratic problems that you get involved with. And I think that we’ve managed to do that quite well. Over the years, my biggest problem has been just basically being stabbed in the back by people that, you know, I put in positions to actually have any power within the organizations that I was involved in, in establishing.

Well, tell us tell us what it’s like to be out on the high seas chasing down an illegal whaling boat and, and stopping it from, you know, doing that.
Well, in 1979. The first time I did this, as I hunted down the pirate whaling vessel Sierra, I knew it was somewhere in the Atlantic, and I left from Boston. And actually, it was only about two weeks later that I encountered it about 200 miles off the coast of Portugal. And they knew we what we were when we came after them, and he began to run and I chased him into a harbor into in Portugal. Now I had there were 20 of us on board the boat, and I said to my crew, I got them together.

And I said, Look, I’m gonna go out there, I’m going to ram that vessel, I’m going to put it out I’m going to end his career. And I can’t say you won’t get hurt, but I can absolutely guarantee you’re gonna get arrested for this. And so you’ve got 10 minutes to if you don’t agree with this 10 minutes to pack your bag, get out on the dock and 10 minutes later, 17 of them are on the dock. I fortunately, the two that stayed with me were engineers and we fired up the engine and we went across the bay and I hit them across the bow to damage the harpoon and then did a 360 and hit a mid shift split and open to the waterline.

And you know, we were arrested and I was brought before the Port Captain’s Office and I was charged with gross criminal negligence and I said to the port captain, there wasn’t anything negligent about it, I hit that ship exactly where I intended to hit it. And he kind of laughed, and he said, I don’t I don’t know who owns that ship. And until I do, you’re free to go. So I walked out the door, and one of the crew who got off, he said, Well, if I knew you were gonna get away with it, I would have been there too. And I said, Well, that’s the thing. Sometimes you have to do these things, knowing that you’re not going to get away with it, you have to take the risks, you have to have the courage to face any possible consequences. And it’s amazing how many times we’ve jumped into the fire and jumped out and burned.

Well, that is that it’s a great story. Tell us a little bit about what it’s like to be out on the high seas, you know, chasing one of these boats, these whaling boats down and, you know, sometimes you’re having to chase them for quite some time.

Well, in the Southern Ocean campaigns going after the Japanese fleet, we, you know, you go down there, you’re like to 3000 miles from Australia and New Zealand, you know, you’re being hit by storms every single day. It’s very remote, very hostile area. And you know, the hard part was finding the fleet. But once we find the fleet, then we can block them and prevent their operations prevent them from refueling.

And that was quite successful every year, every year was better than the year before until, in 2012-2013, we prevented them from taking 90% of their quota. And overall, we prevented them from killing 6500 whales. So I’ve always looked on that as one of our most successful ventures. And, you know, we also we did the TV show Whale Wars on there, which really reached a lot of people in a way that was really good for educational purposes, but it was really bad, and that it brought an awful lot of money into Sea Shepherd became very, very big.

And unfortunately, that resulted in people deciding that their their jobs and their security were more important than what we were doing. So they basically, they dismissed me for being too controversial and too confrontational. And so my response to that is, you know, start new organization, the Captain Paul Watson Foundation, and called it that, so they can’t, he’s gonna be hard to take that away from me with my name on it. And, you know, within two months, we got our first ship, the John Paul DeJoria, thanks to the patronage of John Paul DeJoria. And we’re working on getting our second ship and we have two smaller boats.

So I’m rebuilding the Navy, is what we’re doing. And I think it’s gonna be better, because I guess every once in a while you have to, you have to sit back and say, you know, we got to just really go back to the grassroots and, and that’s where we belong.

Yeah, I can see that, you know, sometimes a reboot is necessary to kind of, you know, get back to first principles. Tell us a little bit about AI. We talked a little bit the last time about extinction, rebellion and how you thought that was an important organization. Tell us why you think that’s an important organization.

One of the things I wrote about last year was that the Burning Man thing, extinction, rebellion, set up a roadblock to stop the people from going into the Burning Man area, basically to you know, to illustrate what climate change and I thought it was rather telling that they were violently assaulted by the people who are going into Burning Man, and they call the cops on them and everything. And then the the Burning Man thing then was flooded out because of climate change.

So, you know, the people who were actually trying to send a message were actually assaulted by the people who later a few days later, were the victims of it, and also people who should have been or, you know, certainly they talk the talk, but they weren’t willing to, to walk the walk. The thing about groups like extinction rebellion, is that they have the courage to, to act to intervene, because they understand what the consequences are, if we don’t, if we don’t act.

And I think that generally government, certainly, but generally, people don’t really look ahead more than five or 10 years, to what things are going to be like, I think if you’re going to be a conservationist, or an environmentalist, you really have to look ahead and say, What’s this world going to be like 100 years from now or 1000 years from now, or even 1 million years from now, because everything we do today will dictate what kind of world is going to be even as far as a million years ago, you wipe out a species, you wipe out this species that’s going to have a profound impact going on and on and on.

And, you know, when people say, well, don’t you get all pessimistic and depressed? I said, no, never do because I do know one thing because no matter what we do, we’re not gonna destroy the planet. We’re gonna take a lot of things with us and we’re not going to survive, but I know a million years from now there’s gonna be a nice planet, we just won’t be here.

So tell us a little bit about you know, I’ve I’ve read about the Great Barrier Reef sustaining a lot of damage due to climate change, and I’ve heard Belize has got an amazing reef system. What What are happening to these reef systems and can they can this change be real?

First, well, two things are happening. One, we’re losing a lot of them. But the other one is, some of the reefs are moving into deeper water. And we’re seeing the development of reset a lot much lower depth. And that so there, you know, there’s I guess it maybe it’s a survival instinct, not a conscious one, of course, but it’s a survival reaction to what we’re doing.

You know, the ocean is certainly getting warmer, there’s certainly no doubt about that. And that’s going to have a profound impact on many species, including, of course, Coral Coral reefs. But again, it’s how we look at it, you know, I always look at it this way, if it just the problem is, is that we have this anthropocentric attitude. The whole of humanity is involved with that it’s all about us. And we’re the only species that is important. It’s all created for us, almost every single religion is anthropocentric, saying, We’re the center of everything God has created us, blah, blah, blah.

And we’ve got to really develop a biocentric point of view. That’s why I actually set up the church of biocentrism. To, to teach the laws of ecology and to it’s more of a science based thing. It’s not a spiritual thing, but, but also to say that we had to survive, we have to live within the laws of ecology and learn to live in harmony with all their species. Most indigenous cultures have this biocentric perspective. But for, you know, quite a few 1000 years, we’ve had this anthropocentric attitude. And that sort of negates everything else that will that we live on in this planet.

You know, a few years ago, I got Brett Hume from the Fox network called me up and he was outraged. He said, Did you say that worms and trees and insects and birds and whales are more important than people? I said, Yeah, I said that at a recent talk. He said, How could you say something so outrageous? Well, because they’re more important than people. And I can tell you why because they live here without us. But we can’t live here without them. We need them. They don’t need us that makes them ecologically far more important than we are.

And we really should learn to respect honor and, and protect all of those species that give us life. But in an anthropocentric perspective or point of view, that’s a very alien concept. Because it’s got you know, we most people live in a fantasy world of delusions, collective mass psychosis, or whatever that sort of is outside of the reality of the natural world.

Right, there’s that sense of, we’re the most important and we’ve got to take care of humans first. And, you know, if we kill off lots of species, it doesn’t matter. Because just as long as humans are okay, which, you know, is very well a selfish but be at the end of the day suicidal and that we’re going to destroy the planet or destroy the environment that supports us too.

But unfortunately, people aren’t seeing that. We’re just gonna go to a break right now. You’re listening to A Climate Change. And I’ve got Captain Paul Watson on the program, and we’ll be right back in just one minute.

You re listening to A Climate Change. I’ve got Captain Paul Watson on the show today. And Captain Paul, maybe you could tell us a little bit about your thoughts of diminishment and how that affects the environmental movement and consciousness.

Well, as humans, we have this incredible ability to adapt to diminishment. And you know, the service well, 20,000 years ago when we had to do it, but the problem is today is that we lose a species we forget about it and move on to something else. And, you know, we forget how things used to be I mean, 1965 If I were to tell you that you’d be buying water and plastic bottles and paying more for that water than the equivalent amount of gasoline, you look at me like I was crazy. Nobody’s going to do that.

Also, I remember from the 70s you you couldn’t every time you pulled into a gas station, you have to you had to scrape all the bugs up here windshields, I mean, we don’t see that anymore, because the insect number of insects is so greatly diminished, and we haven’t even really noticed it. And with with fish, for instance, you know, a species will overfish it and then move on.

Like, for instance, in the 90s. The orange roughy was a very big in fish stores and everything you ever hear about it anymore. It’s caught off in New Zealand. But the problem with orange roughy as it takes 45 years to become sexually mature and lives out to be 200 years of age, it couldn’t really keep up with our demand. And the other problem is, is what I call the economics of extinction, that is there’s money to be made by driving species into diminishment or even to extinction because diminishment translates into scarcity and scarcity translates into demand which translates into higher prices and more profits.

And what we see today, you know if you go into any mark, Like a fish market or restaurant, there’s a lot of fish. It’s available and people say to me, well, there’s no shortage, I go in the markets all over the place. Well, the problem is to get those fish takes more and more technology. And we’re looking at 100 and $50 million super trawlers. 100 mile long, long lines, 100 mile long gillnets, we see is one gill net in the southern ocean, it took us 110 hours to pull it up from two kilometers, and it was 72 kilometers long and weighed 70 tons.

That was one net from one ship. And so that’s the kind of technology they’re investing in get the less and less fish so, and also the entire industrial fishing industry survives because of about $90 billion spent worldwide to subsidize the fishing industry. It doesn’t make any money really survives on government subsidies, you know, to build $150 million super trawler is a huge investment. And that means you have to take an incredible amount of fish out of the ocean to pay for that investment.

Two months ago, we were in the English Channel documenting super trawlers and they are just pulling in net after net each of these nets was about the size of two school buses, you know, pulling it in, and what are they fishing primarily blue Whiting, mackerel, herring and everything. But it’s these are the food fishes of almost everything else in the fish. But what in the sea, but what they’re doing with it is rendering it into fish meal. And that fish meal is then sold to factory farms to feed chickens and pigs and domestic salmon.

So we’re wiping, I’d say a good 40% Of all of the fish cut from the ocean isn’t eaten by people it’s features on on factory farms. And you know, in factory farming, the killing of 90 billion animals every year, is the single greatest contributor to groundwater pollution, the single greatest contributor to dead zones in the ocean and the single greatest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

And so this is one of the major problems in the world is factory farming. And also it’s a major vector for the zoonotic transmission of viruses. That’s why you see these factory farms killing millions of animals every year, you know, burying pigs alive, smothering chickens with foam or turkeys with foam and everything. That’s to keep the lid on this petri dish of the breeds viruses and to keep them out. I mean, they killed 17 million mink in Denmark two years ago, because it got they got COVID.

And they didn’t want that spreading to humans. But you’re also seeing bird flu and all these others. And so the zoonotic transmission of viruses is may come in more and more of a problem because that’s a diminishment of ecosystems. diminishment of species, creates a situation where the virus is associated with those plants and animals has have to go somewhere.

And we’re a pretty tempting target. There’s a billion of us. And so, you know, a lot of these viruses can jump on to us, right. And we’re, for instance of domestic salmon. On the west coast of Canada, they’re spreading viruses to indigenous salmon populations, which is causing a lot of, you know, diminishment of those indigenous salmon populations. So salmon farming has is a major destructive influence on marine ecosystems.

I know I’ve seen some videos of some of the salmon farms where they actually pump the fish out of the pens where they’re raising them and put them through a disinfectant to kind of clean them up and feed them antibiotics and stuff like this. You know, it’s disgusting. So are you a proponent of a vegan lifestyle? And do you believe that that’s a big driver of change that could help save the environment?

Well, all my ships were vegetarian vessels from 1980 to 2000. And then from 2000, to now, vegan vessels, because we feel that, you know, the planet was never meant to support 8 million meat eating fish eating primates. And so we really have to adapt. And if we’re really serious about being environmentalists about addressing climate change and issues and yes, developing a, you know, a vegan lifestyle or plant based lifestyle is absolutely essential. I used to say that a vegan driving a Hummer contributes less to greenhouse gas emissions than than immediately riding a bicycle.

That’s a pretty stark contrast. Yeah, it’s it’s a challenge. I certainly have tried to eat less animal protein and animal products. But it’s, it’s it’s a challenge to make that jump but maybe it is the jump to make. Tell us a little bit more about these dead zones that are created by the, you know, the factory farming and the pesticides that get sent down rivers and stuff like that.

Well, to be honest, it’s not just factory farming that’s causing this it’s also agriculture plant based agriculture, which is using it herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, fungicides, bacteria sides, all of these things which end up in into the ocean. So for instance, a major dead zone in the, in the Gulf of Mexico, you know, runoffs from Texas, Louisiana, major dead zones off the coast of California, places like Puget Sound.

And of course, a lot of places throughout Europe. And in Asia, especially in Asia, there’s, there’s a lot, so high levels of toxic chemicals that are coming from that you’re also seeing, like, for instance, a proliferation of algae, red tide, and that in places like Florida, because of all of the things that come from the sugar plantations there, the pesticides, and all that. So, you know, like red tide, for instance, was something that happened maybe once every 4050 years, but now it’s almost an annual occurrence.

So all of these are problems caused by, you know, agriculture, really. I mean, there were all our alternatives. I mean, we, you know, we can, there’s a way of growing vegetables and things like that in, you know, without, you know, using those those pesticides and fungicides and everything, and it’s an order, you can do it organically, and you don’t even have to use a lot of land to do it.

And, you know, they do it in places like for instance, in Iceland, and places where they have to do it. And, you know, you can get bananas in Iceland that are grown in Iceland. And they’re usually grown in in greenhouses. Now using geothermal heat.

Yeah, I’ve seen certainly in I think it’s another ones, they, they grow a ton of food in, in these greenhouses and supply, a very substantial portion of Europe’s fresh vegetables come from these greenhouses, from a pretty small country, the Netherlands is not particularly large, but they are an enormous producer of fruits and vegetables. So it can be done if if we have the will to make that change.

And also, you know, we, you know, buying produce from halfway around the world, shipping it around as a major contributor to carbon emissions, and that I found one thing one time was pineapples grown in Hawaii, get shipped to California, and then shipped back to Hawaii. The way it’s set up, so it actually, you know, actually costs more to buy a pineapple in Hawaii than it does in California.

And this happens with a lot of different protesters. I mean, here in Paris, you know, I go to the markets, and we’re getting stuff from Kenya, we’re getting stuff from, you know, Bolivia, you know, and this problem, for instance, quinoa, which is grown in Bolivia, there’s a shortage of that for the people who live there in Bolivia, because of the demand outside, so it’s been sold off to Europeans or Americans.

And that means that there’s not enough for the people who actually live there and traditionally depended upon it.

Well, tell us a little bit about your book urgent and what the, what the subjects are that you cover, and why you think it’s was an important contribution to this, this environmental debate?

Well, after COP21, I was asked to do this book, urgent, and, you know, save our oceans to survive the climate change. And, and the basically what it is, is that if we want to address climate change, we got to protect the ocean, because the ocean is a life support system on the planet.

But it also goes into, you know, the costs of, you know, burning fossil fuels in the shipping industry, the air airline industry, and on and on, might actually also include in here, one of the real contributing factors is War in, you know, weapons productions, and the, you know, the killing of off of species and destruction of habitats, because of war, I mean, developing weapons and missiles and everything like that is probably one of the most profitable industries on the planet.

And that’s one of the reasons that we always have to come up with an excuse to go to war. There’s always a war going on. And almost every country is involved in the arms industry. I you know, I just came to that. Even more of a realization with the Gaza the Israeli thing, because you got all these countries like Ireland and Spain and Portugal saying, we’re not going to ship any more weapons to Israel, and I’m going, I didn’t even know they were weapons producers.

And, you know, Sweden, for instance, is a major weapons producer. And they’re, in fact, Sweden’s one of the major producers of landmines. And also, all of these governments are involved in death machinery and because there’s a lot of money in it.

Yeah, that’s an unfortunate fact. But you’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host. I’ve got Captain Paul Watson on the show. And we’ll be right back in just one minute to talk to Captain Paul.

You re listening to A Climate Change. And I’ve got Captain Paul Watson on the program. Captain Paul, one of the things he did was wrote write a children’s book, we are the ocean. Why did you why did you write a children’s book and tell us a little bit about it?

Well, I thought it was an
easy way to to convey that message, especially to children and children are far more receptive to it than adults, I think. But what the book actually says, you know, when people think of the ocean, what do they think of, they think of the sea of the seashore surfing, whatever. But the ocean is really the planet. It’s the Planet Ocean, its water in continuous circulation.

And sometimes it’s in the sea. And sometimes it’s in ice underground, or in the clouds. And sometimes it’s in the cells of every plant and animal on the planet. And it’s constantly flowing through all of those mediums, which means that the question is, what is the ocean is we are the ocean, every living thing on this planet is the ocean.

I mean, the water in our bodies was once recently in another animal’s body, or plants body and a tree, whatever it was, once recently in the sky, it was once locked up in ice, and is constantly moving through this. So I like to look at it that way that we are, in fact, the ocean, because this is the ocean, the ocean planet. And I think the children’s book is quite popular. I mean, our children seem to understand that concept.

Oh, it is it, sometimes you have to take it down to a very simple level to just grasp it. And the simplicity of it is brilliant, because we are all connected. And sometimes it’s easy to forget that because I think our mindset as humans is, we’re all separate. It’s, you know, we’re not connected, we’re not connected to each other as humans, and we’re not connected to anything else. We’re the separate individuals.

But I want to kind of switch gears to talk about the Atlantic Conveyor and the Gulf Stream and what’s happening there. And is that the canary in the coal mine as to what is going wrong with the environment?

Well, we’re seeing a lot of ice melting in Antarctica and also in Greenland. And that’s moving a great deal of freshwater into the Atlantic, for instance, and that fresh water is having an impact on the movement of the of the Gulf Stream. And the Gulf Stream, of course, is what makes Europe fairly warm. And if you were to shut down the Gulf Stream, or what’s also called the Atlantic Conveyor, then you’re going to plunge Europe into a into a deep freeze, even though it’s called Duck.

You know, global warming is shut down that conveyor and you’re gonna have very cold weather in Europe, people forget that London and Paris and and Amsterdam are pretty much on the same level as Juneau, Alaska. And so they’re very high on the latitude there, but they’re fairly warm. I mean, you got palm trees in the Scilly Isles, because that’s where the Gulf Stream comes in.

And so that part of the Great Great Britain is really, really warm because of that, and that could all be shut down. And all it takes is just a great deal of fresh, cold water coming down to, you know, to cool off and stop and sink, the Gulf Stream.

Yeah, so I guess the question is, can we stop that? Is it realistic? You know, people talk about stopping methane production and methane leakage, as being probably one of the most important things that we can do, because it’s so much more powerful as a greenhouse gas. Is that doable? And are we doing anywhere near enough to to make that happen?

Well, again, I think that the solution is in nature, you know, when people tell me they’re going to develop a machine that can absorb co2, I said, we already have it as called a tree, just start planting more trees, and also try to increase the population of phytoplankton in the in the sea by increasing the populations of whales and seals and seabirds and that and, you know, produce more oxygen and absorb more co2. And all of these species are very, very important when it comes to the absorption of co2 in the production of oxygen.

And so that’s really I think that’s what we need to do is protect the natural world. We’re not going to we’re not going to solve the problem through technology. I really can’t see any evidence for that at all. But there’s a lot of money to be made by using technology, you know, an alternative of technologies are a lot of it is, you know, very deceptive. I mean, people ask me why I don’t drive an electric car, you’re an environmentalist. Why don’t you drive electric car? Well, you know, good 40% of the electric cars in the United States are powered by electricity.

That’s, that’s actually created through coal fired generating plants or diesel. And so you don’t see the difference here, here, you know, you’re still using fossil fuels to power your electric car. And so, and again, we’re having like windmills, we’re building these windmills and everything, and I don’t have a problem with them on land. But once you get to into the sea, then you’re creating incredibly high decibel levels for the pounding of the foundations into the of these things into the ocean for which is having a really destructive impact upon marine mammals and also on, you know, other life forms that are down there.

And the other thing that we just found out, we’ve been taking scientists out off the coast of France, where they’re building these offshore windmills, and they’re very, very disruptive to migratory bird populations. You know, people talk about them killing the birds, but it’s more of a problem of disrupting their micro migratory patterns. And so I don’t think it’s really been thought out properly, alternatives are just oh, we need alternatives.

But yeah, well, let’s actually look at what those are the negative side of those alternatives before we proceed to go into them? And do we want entire coastlines covered in windmills, which are at the cost of killing off dolphins and whales and disrupting bird migrations? How about solar as an alternative to wind?

Well, solar is again, but you know, here’s the problem with alternative energies is it takes a great amount of fossil fuels in order to produce the material to make solar panels and electric cars and, and that so it’s, you know, what would you do without the fossil fuels?

Like, for instance, people in nuclear, you know, nuclear, they said, is got a low carbon footprint, but I don’t see why they say that, because it takes 1000 tons of pitch, pitchblende door to make one ounce of uranium, and the mining, the processing the transportation of that or is extremely carbon intensive. So I don’t think they factor that in. And when they talk about talk about it, it’s sort of like that, here’s a solution. Let’s not talk about all of the consequences.

But one potential is the hydrogen and they found some naturally occurring hydrogen, and if they could extract that, and that would be a source of fuel. What are your thoughts on that one?

Well, so far, I haven’t seen anything negative about it. That is a good possibility.

Yeah, well, I guess they there have to be a tremendous amount of investment into it to make it anywhere near commercially feasible to power, all the things that we currently power. They’re gonna pivot to something the high seas treaty, and we’ve talked about that a little bit before and I wanted to circle back to it as to we have a treaty out there. What is it? What does it say that protects wildlife? And is it being enforced? And what were your thoughts be about what governments could do to make more efforts to enforce this law?

The problem with the high seas treaty, the problem with all of these treaties, rules, regulations, and everything is lack of enforcement. And without enforcement, they’re pretty much meaningless. Once you go beyond the 200 mile limits, you’re in the Wild West, it’s, it’s no man’s land out there. People do whatever they want. That’s why so much so much illegal fishing is going on.

Now. We’re talking about deep sea mining and no other exploitive activities. And there’s really no regulations. I mean, deep sea mining is going to be a major, major problem. And yet, there’s no regulations that are going to be enforced to stop it to pull nodules, manganese Faroese, not nodules from the bottom of the ocean is going to create incredible amounts of sediment, which is going to take years to go back to the bottom of the earth. And when it does, it’s going to smother benthic life. And these are these manganese nodules.

You know, each nodule takes about 200 million years to develop, and how that develops a say a, you know, a shark fin falls down, and it starts to attract various things like, you know, manganese or nickel or whatever, and they grow, but it takes about 200 million years to grow a nodule the size of a potato. Now, they’re the bottom of the ocean floor. In the Pacific, for example, the bottom of the ocean floor is covered with billions of these nodules.

And the thing is to go get them and extract the ore and there’s, in the process of doing that, it’s going to create a great deal of pollution. Also, it’s going to destroy a lot of benthic life and Uh, we don’t really know what the consequences of that are, there hasn’t been any studies on it at all. I first got involved with see, you know, deep sea mining in 1977, when the Glomar Explorer came back with the first load, and the the problem for the industry back then is there just wasn’t enough profit in it.

But now it’s, it looks like it could be a very profitable venture and actually had to, you know, congratulate Greenpeace on a very successful intervention a few months ago when they boarded one of these mining ships and shut it down, at least to attract attention to what’s happening. But this is one of those things that’s happening that people aren’t really aware of, and there are no regulations to stop it from going forward.

What what is the say the US or the EU do to stop, say illegal fishing out in the areas around the world are around their own coasts.

They’re doing absolutely nothing except for contributing to it. These giant super tankers or these giant super trawlers are being built with the monies, subsidies from from the EU. And, you know, you hear about the pirates off of Somalia. Why are there Pirates of Somalia. They’re just a bunch of impoverished fishermen who had been forced into piracy by the real pirates, the Asian and European fishing fleets that came along the coast of Somalia and took everything.

They also went down the coast of India and took everything and driving people into poverty. And so this is going to become a problem. I said 10 years ago, there’s going to be piracy emerging off the waters of Mauritania and in the Gulf of Guinea, and that’s what’s happening right now, because of overfishing by Asian and European fishing fleets, and highly subsidized fleets, incredibly big industrialized vessels that are just taking everything that they can possibly get.

And trawlers and dry drag trawlers, midwater trawlers, you know long liners, Gill netters there’s enough monofilament netting and line set every single day to go around this planet 30 times.

That’s incredible. Thank you, Captain Paul Watson for being on the program.

Check out the Captain Paul Watson Foundation, and Neptune’s navy. Follow him on all of his social channels as well as follow us at AClimateChange.com as you can check out old episodes that we have. spread the message to people that you know, to get involved and be the change that you want to see in the world.

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