Co-Founder, Sustainable Surf
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The Inertia

As a surfer, you’re probably aware that climate change is a significant problem. However, it’s an abstract problem that is hard to recognize through firsthand experience in the same way as marine plastic pollution or an oil spill. And this is one thing that makes it difficult to truly engage with the problem on a personal level.

That’s not so much the case in California, though, if you consider how a prolonged drought has caused the fire season to burn out of control for the second year in a row. Drought and fire are an expected consequence of climate change in California, and this has directly affected surfers and people throughout the state.

If you live in Northern California, the air quality was been literally biting you in the lungs recently. The smoke was so bad as a result of the Butte County Camp Fire that San Francisco had the worst air quality in the world at one point. Simply breathing air for a day was the equivalent of smoking ten cigarettes.

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Big wave surfer and Northern California resident Bianca Valenti was stunned by the smoke and documented her post-apocalyptic surf session while wearing a mask.

“This is what climate change is like,” she said. And she’s 100 percent right. The surf community needs to get more engaged.

When I talked to Bianca afterward, I asked if she had ever calculated her own carbon footprint. It turns out that she had not. So a quick interview and some nifty spreadsheet work revealed her annual footprint is 25 metric tons of CO2. Eighty percent of that is air travel to surf big waves around the world. For some perspective, the average American is responsible for emitting about 16 tons of CO2 per year.

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This exercise raised the question, how much does the average surfer know about climate change and their carbon footprint? As they say, knowledge is power, and if you care about solving climate change, the very first step should be understanding your own contribution to the problem.

To answer this, we created the Surfers Climate Change Survey. Please take five minutes to lend your voice. It’s important since we’re literally on the front lines of climate change.  To sweeten the deal, one survey taker will be chosen at random to win a free sustainable leash and traction pad from Slater Designs.

Take the survey here.

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