Authors of new study forget the power of the surfer's lizard brain…
How much combined time have you put into dreaming about surfing? Into planning trips? Into sitting at airports and in airplanes and rental cars and chartered boats?
Into actually being in the water?
And, of course, into commenting on BG?
Does that carry an impact?
The servers to power our phones and computers run on fossil fuels, let alone the freshwater pulled from riverine ecosystems needed to keep those servers cool.
The CO2 emissions of a cross-planet flight and diesel for ferries and boat rides or jetting off to a wave pool in the middle of Texas add their load to driving ice melt and ocean acidification, leading inexorably to those things we love eventually being destroyed.
We may not be able to have our cake, and eat it, too.
And, don’t even think about material footprints for boards, baggies, and wetsuits (unless you’re wealthy enough to afford all the “green” versions of those, which means you’re also probably taking two or five trips a year to catch waves, thus offsetting any positive impact of those consumer choices).
When younger, I was naïve to think all surfers cared about the above issues, that a wave rider’s connection to Ma Ocean and Church of Open Sky meant they intrinsically cared about the environment.
Then I found the BG community.
But hope, possibly, may still exist.
A just published study in Trends in Ecology & Evolution by Grégoire Touron-Gardic and Pierre Failler, titled A bright future for wave reserves? suggests that, per the highlighted opening, “Wave reserves, initially aimed at protecting surf spots, are becoming a way to ensure the conservation of coastal areas that are of great ecological and economic value. They foster local development and contribute to countries’ achievements toward international objectives. Several projects to implement large wave reserves are on their way.”
The authors point out that surfers have a long history of mobilizing to protect waves; that contests draw in tourists; and that tourist activities at key US surf spots generate in excess of $10 million, annually.
More importantly, they point out that, “As 90% of world-class wave locations occur within marine biodiversity hotspots and more than a quarter are located near key biodiversity areas, there is a direct link between biodiversity and wave conservation.”
Their research suggests more reserves will be proposed and become legally protected in the years to come, in large part because of their magic pudding of conservation, economic prosperity and human well-being.
It should be noted, however, that the authors do not discuss larger trajectories ie what happens to breaks, even protected ones, which get overcrowded within 10 to 20 years.
The authors forget that surfers are selfish and greedy and that a pristine discovery does not stay that way for long.
This also creates local haves and have-nots, leading to infighting in the local community.
So, what do you think?
But first, let’s be honest — any of us with a crystal ball would have bought up acres and acres of coastal property the world over, seeing how many people want to surf in the 2020s.
Outcome? We would’ve protected ’em for our selfish use or we would’ve sold it all and become fantastically rich.
So, are wave reserves gonna lead to the protection of marine ecosystems and economic mobility for local stewards?
Or is this study too rose-tinted, and wave reserves either cater to the rich and entitled (looking at you, mud boy Parko), further making surfing an even more entitled privilege?