Wave Goodbye

\r\nMatt McClain, a veteran surfer and environmentalist, looks back at his first love.\r\nI was initially drawn to...

Matt McClain, a veteran surfer and environmentalist, looks back at his first love.

I was initially drawn to the ocean by the lure of waves. My youth was spent waiting for those moments when storms would send thick gray slabs marching down the coast, stacked upon one another like corduroy, all the way to the horizon. When the waves came, my desire to ride them eclipsed everything else in my life. School, work, family, and relationships all took a backseat. And though I'm sure those closest to me were not always happy about it, they all appeared to understand my obsession well enough to live with it.The feeling of catching and riding a wave is something I lack the profundity to articulate to anyone who hasn't done it. Emotionally, it spans the gamut from pure joy to absolute horror. Then there is the physical challenge-every break, every swell, every wave is different. Add to that the ephemeral nature of tides and weather and the variables become too great to calculate. In the most simplistic terms, the act of surfing can be defined as going from a static state to trying to catch and literally ride a pulse of energy.

Perhaps it is for this reason that despite our petty squabbles over equipment and territory, we surfers consider ourselves a tribe apart from the planet's inhabitants who do not surf. There is something at the core; a shared experience among surfers, no matter where they are or what their level or ability.Eventually, I began to see beyond the waves. I became aware of how much of a role the ocean played not just in my own existence, but in the lives and work of nearly every person I looked up to. Celebrated in story and song, the sea was at once a muse for musicians and a magnet for adventurers. It was a source of inspiration for both poets and painters, all drawn by its beauty and by its secrets.However, the more I studied the ocean, the more attuned I became to the peril in which we have placed it. I now work full time to protect our seas, waves, and beaches. I do it to honor my father, a native Hawaiian who introduced me to the sea when I was very young, and to honor all the others who have come before me. I do it for the benefit of those who will come after. But most of all, I do it to in some small way repay all the gifts that Mother Ocean has given, and continues to give.Matt McClain is the director of marketing and communication for the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit organization that fights to protect the world's waves and beaches. Matt's writing has appeared in Thrasher, Transworld Surf, Surfing, Happy, and Powder. Become a member of the Surfrider Foundation at Photo by Abigail Sample

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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