Chris Kirkman co-founded Surfers for Climate in 2019. The organization’s four main objectives are to encourage an alliance of surfers to care about the environment; to act on climate change; to assist the surfing community in preventing the development of offshore and coastal fossil fuel reserves. He hopes his non-profit can also generate money to support its operations.
The stereotype of sincere environmental protesters does not go well with the image of the usual, carefree surfer. Chris Kirkman, a top bodyboarder, is evidence that surfers can contribute to the fight against climate disaster.
He has competed all over the world, from Tahiti and Brazil to Portugal and Chile, and it was through surfing that he first began to think about how humans affect the climate.
Together with world-class longboarder Belinda Baggs, Mr. Kirkman co-founded Surfers for Climate in 2019. The organization’s four main objectives are to encourage an alliance of surfers to care about the environment; to act on climate change; to assist the surfing community in preventing the development of offshore and coastal fossil fuel reserves; and to pressure politicians who speak for the surfing community to act on climate change.
Australia is on the front lines of climate catastrophe and has recently experienced drought, wildfires, and widespread flooding. This has caused more significant anxiety among all facets of the population, including surfers.
Many Australians had their heads in the sand regarding climate change, but the fires and floods heightened the severity of the subject, according to Mr. Kirkman. People still find it challenging to proceed since they are unsure of where to begin or go.
Reaching out to surfers and directing them in the correct direction is a part of Surfers for Climate’s mission. To lead every surfer on a path toward climate action, Mr. Kirkman says, “We are still learning about our audience and how to engage them.” We refer to it as an engagement wave that has numerous takeoff points.
Using a broad net
The nonprofit has done everything from arranging pub trivia nights with a climate theme to creating eco-friendly consumption manuals. They unveiled a brand-new program called Trade Up last month that is geared for surfers who are also skilled craftspeople, like builders, carpenters, and electricians.
“We held a one-day conference,” adds Kirkman, “where we invited several material suppliers and builders who were implementing best practices on their job sites in terms of materials and carbon neutrality.”
Throughout their whole working life, they had never had someone interact with them about the environment. Even though we are aware that building produces significant emissions, we do not consult the craftspeople. He continues that they haven’t participated in the climate movement, but all they needed was someone to talk to and show them best practices.
The conversation has, according to Mr. Kirkman, long been dominated by “people in suits in big meetings talking about frameworks and emissions, and we have forgotten that there are everyday people who can get involved if you take the time to engage with them, which is what we try to do with Surfers for Climate.”
Mr. Kirkman contends that those enthusiastic about the subject but not scientists need to figure out how to communicate their ideas. Communication is essential, as is recognising your audience and what they will respond to.
As the climate catastrophe worsens, more people are being affected by the destructive effects of a changing climate. When Australia’s northern rivers of New South Wales were devastated by floods in 2021, many surfers stepped up to aid with the rescue operations, utilising jet skis to rescue individuals trapped in their homes and carry essential supplies.
In addition to engaging with lawmakers ahead of forthcoming elections, Mr. Kirkman hopes Surfers for the Climate can expand its Trade Up project. He also believes the organization can, like many non-profits, generate money to support its operations. He claims it’s the most challenging yet enjoyable job he’s ever had. “There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing, for sure.”
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network