Only one out of the 21 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics in the past 50 years will have a suitable climate for winter sports by the end of this century, a new study predicts. The findings indicate that the only way to avoid this is to stop or reverse emissions. The study comes at a time when organizers of the 2021 Winter Olympics in China are grappling with a lack of snow.
This year, in a historical first, Winter Olympics venues are almost 100% reliant on artificial snow. This worrying trend will likely become the norm if the climate crisis continues on its current path. As global warming continues, weather patterns become increasingly erratic and hard to predict. For Winter Olympics organizers, this means supplementing available snow with artificial options.
Artificial snow poses its own issues. This costly and labor-intensive resource requires huge amounts of water and energy. Further, the snow produced also needs sufficient energy to be sustained. Many winter athletes say that the conditions make their sports harder and less safe to participate in.
“This problem is not going away without us doing something about it,” Jeremy Jones, a big mountain snowboarder and filmmaker, told Vox. “To me, it’s this opportunity to collectively come together around trying to save winter. We need urgency on climate action.”
At Beijing Winter Olympics venues, Italian company TechnoAlpin was contracted to provide snow to cover four outdoor event venues. Even with the assistance of artificial snow, the Winter Olympics faces some challenges that aren’t so easily solved. One of the critical components to making snow is temperature. In Beijing’s case, the biggest challenge was reaching cold enough temperatures to keep water frozen.
For the past 30 years, Beijing’s February temperatures have been above freezing, according to a Slippery Slopes report. This and other factors will make it harder to handle winter sports in the future.
Lead image via Pixabay