Here we go again.
As has been widely reported, a major oil spill has occurred off the coast of Huntington Beach. Apparently, one of the “rigs,” as the local fishermen call them, or more precisely, oil production facility Elly, which is connected to her sister rig Ellen a few miles off the coast, had a pipeline ruptured which transports the oil to shore. It’s now being reported that possibly one of the over 60 container ships now moored off of LA/Long Beach Harbor may have inadvertently caused the damage with its anchor. Miles of pristine beaches and wetlands have been spoiled, hundreds of animals have been killed and it’s being called an extraordinary disaster on many levels.
You can donate to the Surfrider Foundation to directly help the situation in Huntington/Newport here.
Now, onto the delicate balance of our petrochemical addiction, and what role, if any, surfers play in that balance.
As is often the case when these things occur, sides are drawn, politics arise, and fingers are pointed. Yep, that’s the world we now live in but that aside, it’s hard not to see the contradiction surfers must face when we start talking about how we perhaps can (should?) do better as stewards of the ocean.
After all, don’t we need a clean ocean to surf?
One would think all surfers would easily unite around that premise, but the reality being we are very far from unity on the issue.
Right off the top, we still mostly use equipment that is heavily reliant on petrochemicals. Thankfully, that has begun to change with surfboard blanks and resins now available that do not use such chemicals, and some wetsuits are also now made from alternative materials. There is even clothing being developed that uses post-consumer waste like water bottle plastics in the development of the yarns.
Yet, instead of embracing these products many surfers are still reluctant.
For whatever reason, one argument, in particular, is often made that if we don’t abandon all petroleum consumption why abandon any? An either “no cars, no planes at all” deal, or let’s just say “fuck off” to all of it.
To be clear, we at What Youth do not support that position.
But why not embrace a gradual change? If everyone just did a little each day to support long-term change, the results would be dramatic. We’ve seen that during the COVID pandemic, with petro-based travel way down, large cities had the clearest skies they’d seen in years. The water around Venice, Italy was so clear one could actually see the bottom for the first time in recent memory, and so on. It was an inadvertent victory during a tragic global event but it gave us a look into what can happen when we make even a little effort.
No one is asking you to stop driving.
No one is asking you to stop air travel.
But maybe we can ride a bike a little more or perhaps consolidate some air travel into fewer trips?
Is that such a huge sacrifice?
And, at the very least, let’s get our own house in order and start searching out surf equipment that also reduces our dependency on that evil black stuff so we don’t have our beaches closed ever again.