Fourth Element – Protecting our chance to discover and explore
by Jill Heinerth
A dive show lunch served with unnecessary plastic wrapping causes Jim Standing to utter a deep sigh. He carefully folds the wrapper, slipping it into a pouch of other materials he plans to deal with when he gets home. He’s not convinced that the local recycling options are going to take care of this trash properly. He reaches into his pocket and wipes off his bamboo utensil instead of picking up the plastic cutlery available from the vendor. “We need to do better at trade shows,” he says. “I wonder if we can push for a zero-plastic conference?”. There is no argument from me. Jim and I often stand at shows and talk about saving the world. We’re both dreamers, but Jim and Paul Strike are concrete examples of people who are always on point, leading from the front to show people how to be better stewards of our ocean planet.
It is integrity—something that is often missing in today’s busy, just-in-time, retail-strategy. But Jim, Paul and Fourth Element know it is more important to run an ethical business. Some of their programs would make a business manager cringe due to the high-probability of losing money. But how can you change the world if you won’t invest in it? I’m proud to be associated with Fourth Element and thrilled to see how they have managed to grow within the market and also lead the industry in objectives such as Mission 2020. You can’t put a price on the wondrous things we have all had a chance to discover and explore. Protecting them for the future will always be a priority at Fourth Element.
Phil Short spots a tiny well in the underbrush of an oasis in the Western Desert of Egypt. We’re close to the border of Libya and have heard gunshots in the night near our camp. But, he’s grinning ear to ear as he dons his wetsuit, eager to slip into the hole and find the source of the water that is nourishing the local date palms. It is an odd place to go diving, and despite the fact we are in North Africa, it is a cold, windy winter day.
Garry Dallas glides by me like a perfect Dover Sole, hovering horizontally in the water column, flat as a pancake. Few people look as beautiful in the water as Garry. He has perfected the motionless art of being neutrally buoyant in paradise. Beside Garry, a monstrous wall of ice is fizzing as it dissolves into the sea. The groaning cracks and pops of ice don’t seem to rattle him. He’s unflappable, and he knows he might never get to see a sight like this again.
Fourth Element has been with many of us in the industry since the first launch. Dedicated to giving us tools to go to these faraway places, Fourth Element has been our enabler. If the conditions seem harsh, they will build a better tool to protect us. Whether they are protecting the environment or the divers that go out to document it, the mission is clear—let’s be better stewards of this magical world. Discover, share, and communicate about a better ocean future.
Jill Heinerth has been to parts of this planet that have seen fewer people than the surface of the moon. She’s dived in some of the most unlikely places, from the systems supplying the drinking water of Floridian cities, to the underground lakes in the Sahara Desert. However, cave-diving in a free-floating iceberg diving an early rebreather, whilst making a film for National Geographic has to go down as the most extreme diving we’ve heard of. Jill is the inaugural Explorer in Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and continues to push the boundaries in her diving. Her new book “Into The Planet” is a thrilling account of her life as a cave diver.