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Drought as a trigger of the rapid rise of professional skateboarding in 1970s Southern California

Published version
Peer-reviewed

Repository DOI


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Abstract

In 1977 California, authorities responded to an extreme drought with an unprecedented state order to drastically reduce domestic water usage and leave countless newly built swimming pools empty. These curved pools became “playgrounds” for inspired surfers to develop professional vertical skateboarding in the Los Angeles area. Industrial production of polyurethane, and the advent of digital photography, laser printing, and high gloss mass media further contributed to the explosive popularization of skateboarding, creating a global subculture and multibillion-dollar industry that still impacts music, fashion, and lifestyle worldwide. Our interdisciplinary investigation demonstrates that neither the timing nor the location of the origin of professional skateboarding was random. This modern case study highlights how environmental changes can affect human behavior, transform culture, and engender technical innovation in the Anthropocene.

Description

Keywords

environmental change, drought extremes, interdisciplinary research, historical climatology, cultural history, human behavior, climate change

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Publisher

Oxford University Press
Sponsorship
ERC (MONOSTAR (AdG 882727))