Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Climate Change Versus Surf: a surfer’s perspective

I encourage a "carbon negative" lifestyle sequestering more carbon than consumed, to combat and reverse climate change created by global warming and human consumption of carbon reserves. Melting icecaps and rising oceans threaten not only our cultural values and environmental ethos as surfers but more importantly endanger marine life and natural coastlines all over the world. It is inevitable that climate change will have negative impacts on marine resources, coastal communities and our surfing assets of waves, beaches and reefs. Our organization sees surfers as an integral part of the adaptive changes urgently needed to protect and preserve the natural coastal experience for generations to come. (Will Henry photo)

Some key points we must consider as surfers and coastal citizens facing climate change:

Major change to human civilization is certain from climate change. Surfers can and will embrace this change with the same outlook as when surfing waves: life is a wave! The most challenging part of climate change is not how it threatens surfing, but rather how it is destroying marine life, threatening human lives, and destroying wildlife habitat in reefs, wetlands and coastlines throughout the world. Surfers can and will adapt to climate changes forced on the ocean and coastlines, but will the rest of life on earth?

Pollution and sewage spills created by climate change, in addition to flooding and unseasonal storms associated with global warming, will affect surfers’ health and make some areas off-limits to surfing during extreme weather events due to the dangers of pollution.

Rising sea levels will make some surf spots disappear due to deeper waters and changing coastal dynamics; however, other surfing locations that are too shallow to surf now will be rendered surfeable due to deeper coastal waters. New surfing waves, and hence new surfing cultures, will be created, found and surfed through this change.

Destructive storms created by climate change, changing ocean currents and changing weather patterns will force coastal communities to reshape, adapt, and relocate. Surfers will be at the forefront of this community effort to survive and acclimate to global warming not only because of our love of coastal life but also due to our highly adaptive nature.

Coastal flooding will result in surfers as “climate refugees.” But surfers on a global scale are highly flexible creatures able to respond successfully to challenging situations: we “ride the wave of life.” The new environmental reality will force adjustment to climate change in order to survive.

Warmer ocean waters mean less neoprene and/or no wetsuit! This is a very positive development for surfers. Surfers understand and respect the vast power of the ocean and its intense weather. Climate change will affect us in ways we cannot understand now. But surfers are more prepared than most humans due to our evolving nature of "riding the wave that the ocean offers us."