Mick Fanning might just save the world. Well he'll do his bit to help, anyway. Here's how that's already happening.
The 35-year-old three-time world surfing champ has visited some incredibly remote and beautiful places lately. A couple of months ago, The Huffington Post Australia documented his trip to Alaska with the environmental advocacy group Wild Ark.
Mick came away from that trip with a new appreciation for wild salmon, and angry about a proposed major copper and gold mine. Beware angry Mick. If a certain South African shark could speak, we think it might offer a cautionary word or two on the subject.
Mick's latest jaunt was to Norway. His sponsor Red Bull took him up there to fulfil the dream of two photographers who wanted to shoot somebody -- anybody would do -- surfing under the Aurora Borealis, aka the Northern Lights, aka shimmering psychedelic green awesomeness.
They were pretty happy when that somebody turned out to be Mick Fanning.
"It was awesome," Mick told us this week, a couple of weeks after his return from Norway. "Watching the lights was truly incredible. In that moment, I sort of forgot all about what was under the water."
The scene for Mick's night-time Norwegian surf could not have been more dramatic. Lofoten is a pristine group of islands on the northwestern coast of Norway, two degrees above the Arctic Circle. The water offshore comes from The Gulf Stream, a warm current originating diagonally across the Atlantic Ocean in the Carribbean. The current moderates temperatures, making Lofoten the world's warmest spot north of the Arctic Circle.
"The mountains in the distance dropping straight into the ocean. It's a different world, just an amazing, amazing place" Fanning marveled. "I was actually really warm in a 5 mm wetsuit with gloves. You've just got to keep moving."
Warm is a relative term up there. The water was about 10 degrees and the air temperature just below zero. But as you can see in the footage, Fanning was able to catch himself some decent waves on a nice clean right-hander.
We asked Mick if this journey, and other recent experiences like the trip to Alaska, made him see himself as an environmental advocate.
"I've always sort of done that," he said. "My job is in the ocean so I don't want to be surfing in a dump.
"Everywhere I go, I do my best to not leave a footprint. Going to untouched places like these and seeing amazing animals in their natural habitat is something that kids in 100 years should get the opportunity to see.
"The ocean is my healing place. Whatever is happening on the land, I just go out and surf and wash everything off. You don't have to worry about anything else, you just enjoy the water."
Fanning says he's had a relaxing end to 2016, which we were glad to hear. There's no word on his professional surfing career, but you can bet he'll be exploring the world more in 2017.
"I've ticked a lot of boxes on the bucket list this year. I'm just sitting at home now, relaxed and smiling, and coming up with new ideas. I'll probably pull out the atlas in the new year and throw some darts."
Wherever those darts land, we bet he inspires us all to be in awe of nature. Fanning has the gift of inspiring people. His way of life is more powerful than a thousand lectures.