Surfers are gross polluters. Can we be better?
I was at the Pipe Dreams premier last night in Huntington Beach and wow. Robbie Maddison rode a bike into medium-sized Teahupo’o. The crowd, tres moto with much Rockstar and DC and Kawasaki, seemed to very much appreciate the stunt. Hoots all around!
As a surfer, though, it was a bit off-putting. I love an absurdist fantasy come to life as much as the next man, but watching a motorcycle drop in. Watching it rip across the reef and over Tahiti’s pristine blue. Watching brrrappp-brrrrappp-brrrappp on the water turned my stomach slightly.
Now, I ain’t no great conservationist but last night made me wonder if I should be. If we should all be. Kelly Slater is. Jeff Johnson is. Cyrus Sutton is. Lots of surfers are and good for them because we depend on the natural environment as much, or more, than most other groups. But surfers travel more than most other groups too and travel is massively polluting, no? A shaping boards, even in the greenest manner possible, is pretty much poison, no?
Yes, the evil we do, as surfers, is far greater than Maddo’s evil at Teahupo’o because no one will ever do what he did again. It was a stunt. A laugh. Not a sustainably fun new hobby. We are the gross polluters. We are the yucky few.
And that got me thinking about Cecil the Lion. Zimbabwe outlawed big game hunting through most of their parks due the furor of a beloved cat being slain by a Minnesota dentist. But sometimes the yucky few are the ones you need. Hunters, with proper permits, practicing properly, etc. self-police. They take out poachers, clean up others’ messes, know more about the region, and what the region needs to be healthy, than the knee-jerk bleeding hearts at home.
Which takes me back to the ocean. I don’t litter, dump motor oil down storm drains or apply sunscreen when surfing over reef (my skin is so brown!) but I also don’t march, sign petitions or go to beach clean-ups. And I don’t give to Surfrider Foundation. I did once but then they annoyed me with incessant email featuring a worn-out, hysterical tone. Every little thing was of MAXIMUM importance to the FUTURE of the OCEAN.
It all just seems so….tiring. Stylistically tiring, emotionally tiring, physically tiring. Tiring. And annoying.
Does environmentalism have to be annoying? Hysterical? Tiring? How can I be an environmentalist and not be annoying, hysterical or tired? Is there a middle way between being oblivious and always being wagged by the tail?
How can the yucky few be better?