- 22 May 2014 | Surfing
Time flies, and in the year 2500 this article may be checked for its veracity. How is surfing going to be like? Will there be robot surfers, and personal surf drones capturing each surfer's wave?
The truth is that there are many threats to the sport of surfing. We usually think that, hopefully, everything's going to be all right, but surfers have tough challenges ahead. Some of these relentless threats have been born in surfing itself.
Surfers will face three sources of problems. Those originating in Nature, man-made interferences, and self-inflicted wounds. Let's dissect them.
Global warming is slowly killing surfing. Increased temperature over land and the ocean, sudden heavy rainfalls, ocean acidification, and even local social conflicts will have serious impacts on the coastlines.
Sea level rise is changing the way we ride waves. As the Earth warms, glaciers and ice sheets are melting and seas are rising. As the water level increases, islands like Hawaii will observe higher seasonal waves, hurricanes, and tsunami penetrating further inland.
Water pollution is one of the biggest threats to surfing in the upcoming decades. Offshore drilling, plastics, untreated sewage, and toxic agricultural runoff keep destroying the oceanic ecosystems.
Coastal erosion - whether provoked by swell, storms, wind, motor crafts, debris, vegetation, coastal management, or human activity - is changing our beaches, waves surf spots. What today might be considered a beach break, can easily transform into a point break due to changes in dune sediments.
Coastal construction comes next. Everyone wants a house with a stunning location overlooking the sea, but shore property owners will also suffer the impact of climate change, in the near future.
Marinas have destroyed some of the best surf spots in the world, and will continue to do so. Yachts seem unstoppable when local authorities must decide whether to build or not to build private docks for the wealthy.
Coral reef destruction is also a serious issue. The underwater paradise is being destroyed by a powerful underground industry that sells the fascinating colored stones to uninformed tourists.
The growing popularity of surfing can destroy the sport, too. There will be too many crowded surf spots, and multiple surf rage events. Localism levels will increase, and even landlocked surfers will have to protect their artificial wave pools from foreigners.
Are there solutions for the end of surfing? Low carbon economies and lifestyles, respect for Nature's way, protection of local ecosystems, and keeping surfing... for ourselves.