Last month we were lucky enough to catch up with Chris Hines MBE when he was a keynote speaker at Bude Climate Partnership’s Bright Futures Festival down in Cornwall
You may know Chris as the Co-Founder and Director of Surfers Against Sewage (1990-2000) or as the former Sustainability Director at the Eden Project. In 2008 he was awarded an MBE for “Services To The Environment” and became joint-winner of the first international Surfers Path Green Wave Awards for contributions to surfing and the environment. He now runs A Grain of Sand, working with companies and organisations to pursue positive change including sitting on the Sustainability Advisory Panel to the BBC.
Chris has been an environmental campaigner for over 30 years, a passion fostered during his childhood days of living on the edge of Dartmoor. This deep connection with the planet never left him so it was only natural that as a surfer, the health of the Ocean became his primary focus. Over the years, he became renowned as a highly experienced communicator and a true driver of positive change. Who here remembers him confronting Tony Blair about the state of Porthtowan Beach – or Porth Tampon beach as it was known back in the day because of the raw sewage being pumped into it.
As we listened to Chris speak, none of that passion for the planet’s health had dissipated and neither had his ability to motivate and mobilise an audience into positive action. Having been thoroughly uplifted by his talk, we took it upon ourselves to ask him a few questions about the state of the world – here’s what he said.
What are the main challenges we are facing in the world today?
The main challenges are, in my humble opinion: Climate change crisis and biodiversity crisis which are linked, so I’ll call that one main challenge. Then there’s population increases and mindless consumption. Lack of empathy towards others and a collective loss of connectedness with each other and the planet is another. And then there’s the inability to think in an examined way and to work out what is fact.
What are the solutions to the problems?
True equality and equity of everyone irrespective of their skin colour or gender. Helping people move away from self-centred behaviours but that can be difficult, as I sometimes think we’re hard wired into them as an old survival instinct. Better education with respect for others and time to connect people. Slow down and appreciate what you’re got and look after it and each other. An understanding of how to apply quizzical thought and find balance. From that comes the ability to develop and deliver the vision of a world in harmony with the planet. Oh and VOTE – and for those who say they don’t vote – YOU DO, and YOU HAVE in every single election. You vote for a lack of hope, a lack of vision and you vote for apathy and not caring for the planet or other people!
Is there hope for our planet?
At times it’s tough to remain hopeful but I do. I am a cautious optimist but worry about how bad things will have to get before we find our collective way out of this hole we’re digging. We will have to be willing and articulate enough to stand against some of the darker forces that try to exploit these challenges to drive us into more isolationist behaviours. We are all in this together and the sooner we realise that the better.
And surfing, why do you still surf? What is its importance to you?
Why do I surf? Goodness now there’s a question…for the love of being around the sea and feeling that motion and connection, it feeds my soul, keeps my body in some form of functioning shape and makes me happy. Oh and I love seeing my wife, Katie, paddling back out after she’s had a good wave too!