The opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games had many highlights, culminating in the lighting of the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Olympic Cauldron. A major aim of the Olympic committee has been to make the London Games as green as possible, but the iconic copper cauldron—beautiful as it may be—is fueled by a steady stream of natural gas.
The cauldron was designed by London-based Thomas Heatherwick who is well known for his unique architecture, urban infrastructure, sculpture, and furniture projects. His concept for the Olympic cauldron sees 204 separate copper “petals” coming together to make one enormous flame. Each of the 204 petals represent one of the 204 nations coming together to compete in the 2012 Games. The unique concept was approved by Prime Minister David Cameron and London 2012 chairman Lord Coe.
In order to make the cauldron as green as possible, Heatherwick had to meet the London Organizing Committee’s request that the Olympic cauldron be powered by natural gas which is pumped individually through the stems of each petal.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, an Olympic spokesman said: ‘The multiple burners means that the burn-rate is flexible. The gas flow can be reduced very significantly—this means we can reduce our gas consumption from 100% down to 15%. We are constantly monitoring the flow rate to ensure the minimum quantity of gas is burned.”
While that is fantastic to hear, the London Olympic Games is resorting to bad habits to make the Games as green as possible. Instead of looking at sustainable and renewable alternatives, reports indicate that the Games is merely working with energy company EDF to see that all of the carbon emissions are offset. In essence, they’re paying to pollute.
Still the 8.5 meter-high, 16 ton copper cauldron will be recycled once the Games are over—except for its petals, which be given distributed among the competing nations once the cauldron is completely dismantled.