PODCASTEnvironmentally Speaking EP 72: Boomers and Sparkers

March 2, 20230

Transcript: Boomers And Sparkers

MARISA:  Let’s do it.CLARICE:  Good morning, everybody.  And welcome to this week’s episode of Environmentally Speaking.

MARISA:  Hi, everybody.  I’m Marisa Desautel, an environmental attorney in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

CLARICE:  And I’m Clarice.  I’m coming in with questions, comments, topics.  And this week’s topic is coming from you, Marisa.

MARISA:  It is.  So what can we anticipate, doom and gloom.

CLARICE:  Doom, gloom.

MARISA:  So, Clarice, if I’m correct I remember that you are really into true crime podcasts?


MARISA:  Same.

CLARICE:  So much of it, yeah.

MARISA:  I’m like obsessed with — I think it’s the extent and the depth of our species’ capacity to harm each other.

CLARICE:  Yes.  I think the idea that it’s so alien and so foreign and I just spend the whole time going, how could this happen.

MARISA:  Yeah.


MARISA:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  One hundred percent.

MARISA:  Serial killer person and men who kill women and I just — I find that fascinating.  And I think — I know this is not environmentally centric, but I think as a woman the more you can educate yourself about what men are capable of and what other people are capable of, too — but it is mostly men that are carrying out these crimes on women — I feel like the more aware you can be of your surroundings and potentially avoid some risk yourself.  So with that as the backdrop, why the hell am I talking about that.  For me when humans harm other humans I think, okay, that’s our species.  That’s how we’re built.  We go to war.  We murder.  We pillage.  When I hear about humans harming animals, it’s a completely different reaction.  Animals are not attacking us as a species.  I mean, of course you’ve got some incidents that occur, but it’s not like we’re out there fighting dinosaurs with spears every day, yet we, as a species, are responsible for the destruction and the extinction of other species.  For what reason?  Well, historically it was for things like —

CLARICE:  Industrial growth.

MARISA:  — blubber, industrial growth, yeah, yeah.  Killing whales for their blubber to make candles and soap.

[0:03:01] CLARICE:  Perfume.  Yeah.

MARISA:  Perfume.  So I guess historically, not that I agree with it but, okay, humans looked at animals as a resource.  But fast forward to 2023, we’ve still got the same issue.  In America we don’t kill whales for their blubber, but we’re still killing them.  Sorry.  Go ahead.

CLARICE:  I was just about to say it’s such an archaic topic to still be talking about.  And I feel like specifically the late ‘20s or like the — I would say maybe the 2016s, 2017 and on, I find that we’re talking about things and bringing things back up that we shouldn’t be talking about anymore and it’s this idea of like, we’re still attacking animals.  There’s still, you know, tons of mass oil spills and pollution and things like that.  And I would love to do an episode on the Ohio River situation in terms of how we’re dealing with that and how we get to that point.  So I just feel like we’re going back to archaic topics.  We’re kind of here for a redo.

MARISA:  That’s an interesting perspective.  That had not occurred to me.  I also think that talking about the train derailments are important.  I’m interested in what happens next with that.  So I think we agree that waiting to talk about that situation makes sense.  But going back and having like a retro experience with respect to animal harassment and endangerment is completely our fault.  Not you and me personally but our government’s failure to lead properly, our lobbyists’ failure to look at what their interests would do in the long term.

The so-called green energy movement frustrates the hell out of me because there’s a lot of misinformation that exists.  And just because a project calls itself green, doesn’t mean that it’s environmentally friendly.  For example, and to tie in my diatribe to the topic that we’re discussing today, the offshore wind industry has been very recently cited as being responsible for a plethora of whale deaths.  And the reason we know about these whale deaths is because the whales are washing up on shore throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut.  There was one in Rhode Island and long island, all areas where offshore wind research is taking place.  It’s seismic research.  They use something called boomers and sparkers that — it kills the wildlife in the ocean, but these projects are considered grown.

[0:06:46] CLARICE:  Boomers and sparkers, one that sounds dangerous and it also sounds like a knockoff of movers and shakers.  That doesn’t sound good, whatever it is.


CLARICE:  I know nothing of it.  Do you happen to know what it is or why it’s harmful?

MARISA:  I don’t know a lot about it other than to tell you that the research is to map the ocean floor and to deal with micrositing of where these turbines are going to go.  And the only way that some depths can be probed is through seismic activity, so you have to send out a very — I don’t know if it’s loud.  And this is where my knowledge base fails, but I don’t know if it’s — the decibels are the problem, or.

CLARICE:  It looks like it’s designed to — and this is a very, very quick cursory Google.  It looks like it’s design today create a sort of micro earthquake with sound —

MARISA:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  — to sort of do that mapping.

MARISA:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  Oh, man.  That can’t be good.

MARISA:  Yeah.  And it’s killing whales which we’ve talked about in another episode.  We’ve got an issue under the Endangered Species Act with right whales being endangered.  You gave me the number before we started recording.  How many are we down to?

CLARICE:  169.

MARISA:  So we’ve got 169 of this one particular species.

CLARICE:  That’s less than your average wedding.  I mean, like if you think about that in your lifetime you’ll be in — easily you’ll be in a room with more people.  Your grocery store is filled with more people than there are right whales left.

MARISA:  That fact by itself is upsetting and scary.  And then when you add in the seismic activity and what I think are resultant whale deaths, that becomes so completely unacceptable that this is why I drink wine every night because I feel like there’s very little recourse and there always has been very little recourse for people that are truly pro-environment, people that are truly concerned about conservation and protecting what little habitat we have left.  Where are our congressional leaders?  Where are the politicians?  Where are the folks responsible for ensuring the viability of our future generation?  I don’t have kids, so when I’m gone I’m gone, but for those people that have kids and have families, where’s the outrage?

[0:09:54] CLARICE:  Well, not even that.  It’s just why do we bother having an endangered species list and there’s so much effort and publicity and almost notoriety when an animal gets put on this list, for what?

MARISA:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  There’s all this pomp and circumstance to put the whales on this list and now we’re seeing them wash up.  Like what’s happening?  Is something happening and it’s not being reported?  And if it’s not being reported, why not?  Why aren’t we learning about it?

MARISA:  I don’t have the answers.  All I can tell you is that offshore wind is such a mega corporate interest, which interest is cutting major deals with our federal government to lease federal property — it’s federal water — and construct these mega offshore wind infrastructure farms.  And it’s got a huge negative impact on the ocean floor and the ocean environment and there will be other species killed, affected, put on the endangered species list and it seems to be okay because it’s labeled as green energy.  It’s not green energy.  I mean, clearly I feel very passionate about this issue.  It’s not green.

CLARICE:  Think we talked about it.  It’s that idea of green washing.

MARISA:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  How some things are marked as green and everybody’s like, well, it’s green so it’s okay.  And it gets, you know, green-lighted and passed through and everybody’s on board with it and we’re not taking the time to read, well, is it completely green.  Are there things that it could be improved on, or are we just saying, yay, it’s here, and not giving it proper criticism and holding it up to that high standard.

It’s like when we talked about solar panels.  It’s a great idea.  It’s an awesome alternative, but we have to talk about what happens when they get recycled and what that life span looks like and are we being responsible from creation to its end of life.  So wind could be a cool idea, but are we talking about from when it’s, you know, thought of at the drawing board to how it’s implemented to how it’s maintained to how the rest of the environment — because it doesn’t operate in isolation — how that’s all going to be affected.  And we’re not.  We’re just saying, yay, we have an idea.  I got gloomy.  You did this to me.

[0:12:46] MARISA:  It’s a bad one.  You know what I think is kind of cool for us, you and me, is that we’ve done — I think this is our seventy —

CLARICE:   — second?

MARISA:  I was going 76, but okay.  In the 70s.

CLARICE:  Oh, okay.

MARISA:  And we’ve got an episode on the Endangered Species Act that I recommend that people — if you’re into this podcast, if you’re into my ramblings, please go listen to the episode on the Endangered Species Act and you’ll hear about the pomp and circumstance that Clarice is talking about.  I mean, it is an entire distinct federal statute.  The federal government thought this issue was so important that they created a separate regime to deal with protecting endangered species, so that in and of itself is an interesting topic.  So go listen to that and then listen to our episode that we did on — we did one on offshore wind, right?


MARISA:  And try to wrap your mind around what is actually happening in our country.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist.

CLARICE:  We only believe in  aliens.

MARISA:  That’s right.  I work for state government.  I know bureaucracy.  Conspiracies do not exist as far as I’m concerned because in my experience government employees can’t even get their act together enough to collude and order lunch.  You know what I mean.  No one’s getting together to create some crazy conspiracy.  But I have to say that watching this particular scenario roll out, it’s infuriating because I can see how special interests are overtaking a very important environmental issue with almost no checks and balances or oversight.

I hope that changes.  I hope more information starts to come out.  I hope more people are vocal about green energy or offshore winds not being green and I hope more news outlets pick up these stories and people start giving a hard look at what is going on in our oceans because once this ball starts rolling, if it’s not stopped we’re going to see a lot more negative impacts to not only whales but all other ocean life.

[0:15:36] CLARICE:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  This kind of reminds me of a while ago I was watching a David Attenborough special and he started — and if you folks — I mean, I think everybody knows who David Attenborough is, but if for some odd reason you don’t he is a famous nature documentary host.  He has such a beautiful voice, very soothing.  But he had done this documentary that started with this audio clip of a bird and I think it was a good five minutes of just listening to this bird sing.  And then he came on and said, this is one of the only recordings left of this extinct bird.

And then he talked about this bird’s journey from going to the at-risk to the endangered to the extinct and there was the acts of trying to rehabilitate.  And then it was preservation.  And then it was just sort of keeping it going.  And this whole episode or documentary — I can’t remember if it was part of a series or not — was just focused on animals reaching their end of life and I’d really love for there not to be a part two involving these whales.  I just want for there not to be a part two.  I’m not specifically saying whales only, but it’s, you know, kind of really in the front of my mind right now.  That was a really hard episode or piece to watch.  So just something for everybody to keep in mind.  If you’re starting your day, it can only go up from here.  If you’re ending your day, just go to sleep.  It’s real sad.

MARISA:  Cry yourself to sleep.

CLARICE:  Just take a nap.

MARISA:  I mean, that’s what I do.  And, Clarice, are you getting more interested in environmental issues and topics?  This is the first I’ve heard you mention watching a nature documentary.

CLARICE:  Oh.  Oh, my goodness.  So my husband loves nature documentaries and I do love watching them.  The problem is David Attenborough’s voice is so soothing.  I probably only watch the first half hour and I need to rewatch them in pieces because I fall asleep all the time.  I really want to watch them in full, but that man’s voice is so calming.

MARISA:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  They’re so good and, I mean, there’s such beautiful imagery, too, so I do like them for like the first 15 minutes of me being awake.

MARISA:  Yeah.  Yeah.

CLARICE:  I do want to give a quick shout-out to a public article that we referenced, why environmentalists may make this whale species extinct.  We’re going to link it to our show notes, but I always think it’s important to give credit when credit’s due.

MARISA:  Wait.


MARISA:  Wait a second.  What was the name of that article?

CLARICE:  Why environmentalists may make this whale species extinct.

[0:18:36] MARISA:  Why environmentalists?

CLARICE:  Yes.  You sent it to me.

MARISA:  I’m an environmentalist.

CLARICE:  Yes.  But as you pointed out, this is talking about that wonderful topic of green washing so folks who are championing the wind farms and doing all of that work and saying that this is environmentally beneficial and they’re not taking in the whole ecosystem.  See the past ten to 15 minutes.

MARISA:  Yeah.  I know I sent that article to you.  So the link to the article is one word, dash, the second word, dash, the third word, so when I looked at it it didn’t register.  Hearing you say the name of the article is exactly what’s wrong with this entire situation.


MARISA:  Environmentalists are not necessarily for these projects.  I’m an environmentalist.  I am against these projects, so that — I mean, there it is.  There’s the issue.  And shame on whoever wrote that article.

CLARICE:  Oh, I was going to say the opposite.  I was going to say kudos to Leighton Woodhouse and Michael Shellenberger for doing some good clickbait because in the article they have the same argument that you do.  They talk about differentiating, you know, who are people who are posing as environmentalists versus people who are actually here with their concerns.

MARISA:  Well, that title is bullshit and it’s not accurate and it’s misleading.  So the article might be great.  I mean, I read it and I forwarded it to you, so it must have been great, but that title pisses me off.  It’s very misleading.

CLARICE:  It is.

MARISA:  And it’s spreading misinformation and I don’t like it.

CLARICE:  Well, dear listener, I hope you have some rage for the day to start your day, to end your day.

MARISA:  [inaudible] episode that I’ve been really angry.

CLARICE:  You have.  Who knows, maybe next week I’ll be angry.  It would be too much of a stretch to say next week we’d find something joyous, so we’re just going to trade off the anger.

MARISA:  You’re picking next week’s episode.  I can’t handle all this anger.

CLARICE:  Oh, all right.  We’ll see how much info there is about the terrible water conditions in Ohio.  I really do want to talk about that.

MARISA:  All right.  Yeah.  You know what, that’s a good topic because there is a lot of discussion and information on it and I am curious about all of that is going to play out.

[0:21:21] CLARICE:  All right, guys.  So look out for more of us raging about water.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments, topics, feel free to reach out to us.  We are on the socials at Desautel Browning Law, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.  Our e-mail is DesautelESQ — no — Help@DesautelESQ.com.  This is my first time doing this, so everybody be patient with me.

MARISA:  Why don’t you like have it on a little card that you read from?

CLARICE:  Then we wouldn’t have a blooper reel.

MARISA:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  But, also, while we’re on that subject I want to give a shout-out to our listener Brandon.  Brandon wrote in after our short-term rental episode and he talked about his experience living on Aquidneck Island and what his thoughts are on whether or not he thinks the — I believe the Middletown — yeah, the Middletown town government is going to be acting and looking for folks who haven’t registered or what that situation is like.  So that was some interesting sort of direct perspective, so thanks, Brandon.


CLARICE:  I enjoyed reading that.  All right, guys.  Have a good one.

MARISA:  Wait.  Did you get the e-mail right?

CLARICE:  No.  You know where to find us.  Brandon did.  Bye.

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