« La vague verte », is in fact the name of the blog, protest, and individual action “group” recently created by Carine Camboulives and Emmanuel Bouvet, watermen and sensation-seekers at heart. In their first episode under the new flag, they ask what effect climate change might have on something as fundamental to all of us as the waves on our seas.
Hello everyone out there, girls and boys, men and women, young and old, innocent and wise, all you board sport and sensation addicts, this blog is very much for YOU. Increasingly aware of how fragile the planet and seas are becoming, “La Vague Verte” is a shared voyage way off the beaten track to places we all love to lose ourselves in order to find ourselves again, learning, meeting other people and peoples, witnessing and sharing the reality of life on a seemingly endless, perfect wave.
« The green wave » believes, as did the philosopher Keyserling, that “the shortest path to knowing yourself starts with a journey round the world”, so what are you waiting for ! Personally, we’ve embarked on a brand new blog chapter, about the future of our favourite and beloved playground, and it starts with this crucial question : what are the possible consequences of climate change on the world’s waves ?
Europe has just suffered a blistering heatwave (this part of the blog written in early 2018) and 2017 will go down on record as the 2nd hottest since records began (outside El Nino years). But 2018 looks as though it’s going to surpass even that.
Climate change and human activity are the prime suspects. There shouldn’t be any need for debate on the matter. But unbelievably there still exist, notably and possibly catastrophically, among the most powerful people in various States, climate change deniers. Over 30°C inside the polar circle, over 40°C in California, 40°C in Tokyo, 36.6°C in Montreal... The planet is literally over-heating. All known records are being beaten everywhere, like in the polar circle town of Kvikkjokk (Sweden), with 32.5°C on July 17th. Like in Saharan Algeria, with 51.3°C in Ouargla on July 5th. Or in Death Valley, California, 52.9°C on July 24th, threatening the all-time heat record of 54°C in Ahvaz, Iran, in June 2017.
Will 2018 be climbing the podium of the hottest years since official records began, in 1880 ? According to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency) of America, 16 of the 17 hottest years recorded have happened since 2001. Already, June 2018 was the 2nd hottest ever, the European Weather Centre has concluded.
« In addition to the exceptionally high temperatures recorded in in Siberia during June, they were also mostly higher in most parts of the United States, central Canada, North Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and northern China » as the WWO (World Weather Organisation) explained it.
Two of the most respected studies on the subject of climate change and waves, « Projected Changes in Wave Climate from a Multi-model Ensemble » (by Mark A. Hemer, first published in the magazine Nature Climate Change 2018) have concluded that the more frequent storms will result, generally, in fewer and smaller waves. Average annual wave size between now and the end of the century will be smaller. The biggest drop will be in the northern Atlantic, the north Pacific and the Indian Ocean, even during the northern winters. The north Atlantic can expect to see smaller waves all year round. But other areas will see much bigger waves : the south Australian coast and New Zealand especially during the southern winters (July to September).
The map below shows the evolution of wave size in the period 1979 to 2017. It suggests that 15 of the 16 surf spots shown on the read out had seen a net reduction in average wave size. The only exception was New Jersey, on the American east coast. Indonesia and Australia had shown the biggest average drop.
It may be too early to say exactly what is the real cause of this tendency, but surely the gradual narrowing of the difference between the temperatures of the equator and the polar ice caps must say something ?
« The waves are getting smaller » seems to be a popular topic among riders, but it’s such a complex and detailed subject that it’s almost impossible, at this point, to make a direct link to the possible evolution of our waves. Rising sea levels could have a negative impact on current low-tide spots. But other spots could find themselves much more viable. Speculation aside, recent research suggests that more frequent tropical storms will bring bigger swells, but also bigger coastal damage. Obvious really. Higher seas bring more coastal erosion and changes in the depths of the seas underneath. The degree of uncertainty is currently as deep as an ocean trench.
At this moment it’s impossible to say what effect climate change might have on our waves with any degree of accuracy. Of course, for now, we’re all going to carry on enjoying super sessions everywhere we can go. Nothing to worry about really…. But in reality, every one, or almost, of the oceans, the beaches, and the coastlines of the world are a constant reminder of the stresses to which they are increasingly exposed. The omni-presence of macro and micro-particles of plastic in the sand and water, the decreasing numbers of (varieties of) fish, and coastal erosion are all too significant to ignore any longer.
Climate change is also strengthening depressions and weather systems, making them more violent and more frequent, leading to the destruction of (coral) reefs. And if we say reefs destroyed, that also means danger for the formation of waves.
This photo was taken in February 2013. Two years later we went back to the exact same spot on Christmas Island. It would still have been possible to surf the same wave, but Carine could no longer have hung her hammock. The two trees were lying flat on the ground, uprooted by the rising water level. But this little inconvenience is clearly nothing compared to the plight of the people of the Kiribati islands (which Christmas Island is part of), who have begun their exodus from their homes, making them climate change refugees. Our film “No present for Christmas Island/Pas de cadeau pour Christmas Island” will tell you all about their situation.
The « Green Wave » blog is all the same written from a positive perspective, with as many ideas for solutions as questions asked. Not only that, like singer Ben Harper has it in his song « With my own two hands » we believe that each and every one of us « can help clean up this planet with their own two hands ».
Here are a few ideas for how YOU personally can start saving and cleaning up the planet with your own two hands :
- Reduce your carbon footprint to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Use the car less and start using car-share schemes
- Always remember the 4 « R »s » : Refuse (to buy products that don’t respect the environment), Re-use, Repair and Recycle
- Only buy low-energy white goods and light bulbs
- Use less water
- For all you riders, try to only buy boards with limited environmental impact (recycled foam core, biodegradable resin, long-lasting boards manufactured in the country of purchase…)
- Get involved in reef-protection projects
- Limit your use of noxious chemicals in your gardens and on your land
- Never fly-tip or dump your old white goods, take them to a recycling centre
- Try to consume only organic seafood
- Use sun-creams and protection that are compatible with coral reefs and the sea floor
So, ‘til our next episode « La Vague Verte/The Green Wave » wishes you all a great end to your summer, and that every ride is a great ride.
Written by Manu Bouvet