COLUMBUS – As the world turns its attention to the Sochi Olympic Games, Environment Ohio revealed a new factsheet summarizing global warming’s impacts on Winter Olympic sports, and highlighting the need to act urgently to reduce the carbon pollution fueling global warming.
“When it comes to the future of winter sports, global warming has us skating on thin ice,” said Christian Adams, State Associate with Environment Ohio. “There’s still time to keep from sliding off the edge by going after the biggest sources of the carbon pollution fueling global warming.”
Environment Ohio pointed to increased rate of snow melt, shorter winters, drought, and a shrinking map of reliable winter host sites, as climate impacts are threatening the Winter Olympic Games. They also warned that unchecked global warming could accelerate these changes. At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, organizers trucked in and manufactured tons of extra snow. The unusually warm conditions that trigger these extreme measures could become the new normal.
Power plants that burn fossil fuels like coal and gas are the largest sources of carbon pollution in the U.S.: Ohio ranks 2nd in the country for most carbon pollution from its power plants. But while there are limits on smog, soot, and other dangerous pollution from power plants, there are no federal limits on the industrial carbon pollution power plants emit.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting public comments on its proposal to start limiting carbon pollution from new power plants, and plans to propose limits on carbon from existing power plants in June. Americans have already submitted 4 million comments to the EPA supporting limits on carbon pollution from power plants.
The Winter Olympic Games aren’t the only victims of climate change – scientists are seeing global warming’s fingerprints on toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie. And extreme weather, and air pollution worsened by heat waves are already exacting a huge toll on Ohioans’ public health and safety.
“Despite the numerous outbreaks of exceptionally cold, snowy weather that the eastern part of North America has suffered this winter, global warming has not ended or reversed,” said Dr. Lonnie Thompson, Distinguished Professor in the School of Earth Sciences and a Research Scientist in the Byrd Polar Research Center at the Ohio State University.
Last September, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report concluded with 95 percent certainty that humans are the dominant drivers of observed global warming since 1950. “Climate change is the new reality, not part of a belief system based on personal values,” added Thompson.
“President Obama has committed to protecting our children and grandchildren from the worst impacts of global warming, but the EPA’s proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants is not yet in place,” concluded Adams. “The fossil fuel industry and their allies in Congress are already lining up to block the president’s plan. Ohio’s leaders must show their support for climate action.”
Environment Ohio’s factsheet Skating on Thin Ice is available online at EnvironmentOhio.org.
Environment Ohio is a state-based, citizen-supported, environmental advocacy organization, working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future.