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By 2050, the world will have more man-made wave pools than natural waves breaking in the ocean.


The Inertia

In a new, shocking report, researchers released results of a study revealing that our newfound infatuation with wave pools would lead to an astonishing new reality: by 2050, they say, the world will have more man-made waves break in pools than natural waves breaking in the actual ocean.

“There’s been an increasingly popular sentiment in recent years that ‘man-made waves won’t ever replace what we can get in the ocean,'” says James Aerevo, a graduate student at MacPherson University’s School of Wave Sciences and co-leader of the study.  “But it turns out the experience of buying a ticket for a day’s or hour’s worth of waves will in fact one day replace the experience of waking up at 5 a.m. hoping for head-high barrels after days of gawking at online surf forecasts, getting to your local, and being super pissed because you got skunked and the swell never filled in right.”

At time of publication, there were at least 45 known wave pools across the world, either in development or up and running. Aerevo’s report comes out just a month before the three-year anniversary of the opening of Surf Snowdonia, the Wavegarden facility in North Wales which kickstarted the modern wave pool boom and was advertised to produce waves at a rate of one per minute. The growth of pools in existence today signifies a 4,500 percent increase of facilities over a three-year period. Aerevo also researched the growing number of ambitious technologies promising to develop the next best perfect wave as well as their individual rates of production.

“I came across one Kickstarter campaign from a guy in Muncie, Indiana who claimed to have built a scale model of a wave in his trailer park backyard,” Aerevo explains. “The tech claims to be able to produce one head-high barreling right and one head-high barreling left per second, which can then be installed in a pool or lagoon large enough to hold 2,000 surfers.

“The next day, a group launched a competing Kickstarter and announced its unreleased plans for an even better wave tech which can produce two head-high barreling lefts and barreling rights per second for 5,000 surfers, all in a pool twice as big.”

Extrapolating the current rate of growth in pool facilities as well as the competitive claims of each new tech’s ability to produce waves, Aerevo concluded the exponential tipping point somewhere between 2038 and 2041. At that time, there will be no turning back from wave pools eventually overtaking the sheer accessibility of natural waves. By 2050, at the latest, he says there will finally be more waves breaking in wave pools and surfed by humans than waves breaking in the actual ocean.

Initially, Aerevo thought his discovery might have a silver lining. He theorized that the eventual abundance of waves generated would finally solve the global community’s never-ending surf conflicts. Would there finally be enough waves to go around, he asked? He then teamed with Richard Caan, a social psychology professor at MacPherson, to answer his question. Caan and Aerevo conducted face-to-face interviews and surveys with a sample of 10,000 surfers and 5,000 non-surfers (as a control group), sharing Aerevo’s statistical findings, conducting ink-blot tests and lie detector tests to examine the expected impacts on surfers’ perspectives.

“What we learned is that surfers are just a pissy bunch no matter what news you give them,” reported Caan. “Non-surfers were excited by the news and prospect of more accessible waves. They were by-and-large optimistic about the opportunity to one day surf themselves.”

Existing surfers, however, did not report or show signs of optimism when given the news they would have uncapped access to waves. “Ironically enough, existing surfers tended to be very displeased with the thought of all the new surfers this trend would create,” Caan added. “Even when balanced with the idea that they’ll never want for a barreling wave themselves, their psychological profiles and brain scans showed that the potential joy brought to others would somehow diminish their own.”

Aerevo summed up his thorough study in two simple words: “We’re screwed,” he said.

Editor’s Note: Johnny Utah is an “Eff-Bee-Eye” agent and an expert in works of satire. More of his investigative work can be found here.

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