Kelly Slater is not shy when it comes to broadcasting his belief structure. Whether it be diet, clean leaving or a conspiracy theory the 11x world champ ain’t afraid to open up. One of his favourite topics is environmentalism. He sees himself as a crusader, hoping to lend a helping to the plight of Mother Earth. Kerstin Winter recently interviewed the King about some of his environmental concerns facing Indonesia and the West.
Interview by Kerstin Winter
Tracks: If you compare environmental pollution in places like Indonesia and the destruction that is taking place in Western countries, what are some of the main differences you have noticed and how do you feel about Bali in particular?
It’s such a treasure – naturally. I would have loved to have seen Bali in the 70s, before all the tourism, the trash, the crowds, population explosion, but you know everyone loves it because there is some kind of beauty there for them, something special, but the amount of garbage and trash there its horrific for all of us to see. It’s just different in third world countries and first world countries. I think in first world countries pollution is usually more covert. They heavily pollute a river without anyone knowing it or they will have a nuclear catastrophe or something like that. In the third world it’s more like the things on the ground, the trash, the obvious things you can see, the dirty smelling water.
Tracks: Could you describe how things have changed in some places over the decades of you travelling the world, for the better or worse?
I honestly think France has gotten a lot better since I first started going there. I remember around 1990 I was so appalled how there was so much garbage in the water and now I don’t even think about it. It is a lot better now. Maybe they have cleaned the stuff coming out of the rivers. Maybe Spain has made some changes because the French always liked to claim the Spanish were pushing their stuff in their water.
Tracks: To improve things further, how could more awareness be raised?
I think social media is the easiest thing because it just sheds light on a lot more things more quickly, reaching more people. It puts pressure on people doing things. My friends were telling me that there was dynamite fishing happening off Kandui island [in Indonesia] so I just did a tweet about it and they said they had someone come out and look and it stopped the very next day. They had been doing it for like a week. I don’t know if my tweet was the reason why, but a police boat came to look and it stopped.
Tracks: You have seen a lot of pollution, misery and poverty on your trips. How do you cope with these things mentally?
I am pretty depressed about the state of the world to be honest and our future in terms of pollution and humanity in a lot of ways. It feels like politics and religion and all sorts of things are pulling us apart more than they bring us together.
I am pretty sensitive to it … it weighs heavy on my heart to be honest. I think about big things in the world a lot and for me it’s difficult to see and be ok with it. When you become aware of something but then you don’t know how to fix it, that’s when it becomes frustrating.
I try and raise awareness with social media. I wish there was more time for myself to be able to just focus only on that. All the rivers in my hometown right now have completely been destroyed by the sugar cane and fertilizer industries. All the fish in the river outside my house just died, every single fish. The whole river is completely filled with floating fish right now, for miles and miles and miles. It’s the saddest thing you will ever see. I have just seen pictures and it makes me wanna cry.
A lot of people are pushing right now to make things happen, but there has been a brown algae bloom an all the oxygen is gone, so manatees are dying, dolphins are dying, all the fish are dying. It’s so sad.