Surfers have long been known for their “alternative” lifestyles. Through the years, they have been stereotyped as pot-smoking hippies who are constantly seeking thrills and cannot hold down a job (think of Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s character, Jeff Spicoli). While this typecast seems to have faded quite a bit over the years, surfers have maintained an environmental-activist image.
Celebrity Status To Promote Causes
Customarily, once an individual has attained a certain level of expertise in their field and are recognized by their peers and even by the public, they feel a certain responsibility to share their knowledge with others and support the causes that they have come to believe in. One might think of the various celebrities and the causes that they have chosen to focus their support on, for example, Alicia Keys and AIDS awareness or George Clooney and the Darfur conflict. Many star athletes also choose to support causes that are close to their heart, such as Lance Armstrong and his quest to raise money for cancer research and Andre Agassi’s ongoing support of promoting and supporting education, especially for disadvantaged children.
In short, it seems that people who are fortunate enough to attain a certain level of celebrity are able to see and learn a great deal from their experiences; moreover, many of them choose to “give back” — not only because they have the means to do so, but also because many feel it is their duty to share their knowledge and good fortune with the rest of the world.
Surfers And The Environment
Surfers are no exception to this phenomenon, and in fact, most surfers seem to have a high level of environmental consciousness, whether or not they have achieved any level of fame or fortune. This is the case because the environment’s well-being is so crucial to the sport itself, as all environmental changes that occur have profound effects on the oceans. The majority of the changes that are occurring these days, including but not limited to global temperature shifts, pollution, and the undermining of coastal areas, have very negative ramifications for the surf world.
As a community that is largely based around the ocean and also spends much of its time either in or right beside it, surfers are probably one of the most ocean-aware and ocean-connected groups of people around. They know firsthand the impacts of deep-sea drilling, changes in the ocean’s temperatures, and the depletion of marine animals. Moreover, they know that their lifestyle (because surfing isn’t really just a sport, it’s a way of life) is in danger of being destroyed due to human ignorance and disregard.
Personal Life Changes Impact The Community
It is vital (and probably inevitable) for those who are fortunate enough to witness or become a part of the surf community to recognize the importance of taking care of our planet. Not only can individuals make personal and seemingly-small changes in their own lives, but they can also take an active stance on encouraging others to do the same.
Please peruse the Surfrider Foundation website to read further on this cause.