Change Your Life

Rob Machado

Editor's Note: In conjunction with our third annual Green Issue (on newsstands now), we figured we'd give you a few friendly reminders as we venture into a whole new era of energy awareness. Simple things, we know. But every little bit counts. For more earth-friendly wisdom, be sure to pick up the October issue of SURFING today.

Sea levels are projected to rise up to two or three feet over the next century, and if Antarctic or Greenland ice sheets collapse the rise could be 20 feet. And you thought high tide already sucked at your favorite reef or point. Burning so many fossil fuels is altering our climate, and will cause some of our favorite surf breaks to change or disappear. More tragically, environmental refugees are fleeing devastated or drought-stricken lands. The first such are the Carteret Islanders, in Papua New Guinea, who've had to leave their islands because of rising sea levels and increased storm surge.

So, what can we do as surfers? We burn fuel driving and flying in pursuit of waves. Here are some easy tips to help you reduce your carbon footprint, and save you a load of cash on increasing gas prices.

·Surf with friends. By surfing with friends, you quickly split your gas used in half or more, plus it's way better when someone sees that five second tube instead of telling them about it.

·Change your ride. I know that lifted {{{4×4}}} {{{F-250}}} makes you look tough in the wilds of LA, but do you really need it? Downsize to a smaller car, a hybrid, or if you still need to feel manly, a biodiesel vehicle. My biodiesel VW gets 45 mpg, can fit a friend and two shortboards, and can even fit a 9 ft longboard inside if I'm surfing alone and feeling rootsy.

·If it's good, get in. Do you check your favorite spot, then drive around for an hour looking at other places before coming back to your first spot? Just get in and use the time saved to increase your wave count.

·Travel local. Instead of looking for crappy windswell with artsy backdrops in the Black Sea, take a surf trip to somewhere close by. Also, instead of taking more frequent international surf trips, take fewer trips but stay longer. You'll learn more about the country you're traveling in, and be less of a tourist and more of a traveler.

·Use technology to your advantage. In the old days, they had to drive to the beach and hope there were waves. These days swell forecasts are getting pretty good. You can check the swell, tide and wind from home. Or call a friend and find out instead of driving to the beach and getting skunked.

·Try alternative transportation. If you are lucky enough to be able to walk or bike to the beach, only special occasions should merit a hop into a car to look for waves.

·Think before you buy. These days, all kinds of biofoam and environmentally friendly boards are available. Also, check out non petroleum wetsuits. Even better, re-use. Try re-furbishing that magic 70's board lying under your house instead of buying a brand new petro-board. Retro is in, right?

·Buy offsets. It's way better to reduce your impacts, but for those unavoidable carbon emissions, consider helping an environmental project. Check out's "Carbon Free Surfing."

We can all do our part to reduce the climate impact from our love of chasing and riding waves. And think about your grandkids. Do you really want to be telling them "you should have seen it 50 years ago!"

[Michael Chiacos is an Energy Program Senior Associate of Santa Barbara's Community Environmental Council. The CEC is a 38-year-old environmental non-profit focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy, sustainable transportation, peak oil and climate change. Their goal is to end our region's dependency on fossil fuels in one generation — view their blueprint at]