Global Warming has Winter Games Skating on Thin Ice

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Sarah Bucci

Environment Virginia

Arlington, VA – As the Sochi Olympic Games wrap up, Environment Virginia revealed a summary of climate change 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 Madison Poche, Field Associate with Environment Virginia. “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 Virginia 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. 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.

“As an independent, family-owned business, we are like farmers in the winter, hoping for a good season, which has become more difficult to depend on with the erratic changes in climate,” said Eric Stern of local business Casual Adventure, which has been outfitting Virginians for nearly 60 years. “As outdoor enthusiasts ourselves, we encourage everyone to do their part in reducing energy consumption and general waste.” 

The Winter Olympic Games aren’t the only victims of climate change – scientists are seeing global warming’s fingerprints on sea level rise and the increased threat of storm surge in Hampton Roads, and air pollution worsened by heat waves is already exacting a huge toll on Virginia’s public health.

“President Obama has committed to protecting our children and grandchildren from the worst impacts of a warming globe, but the EPA’s proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants is not yet in place,” concluded Poche. “The fossil fuel industry and their allies in Congress are already lining up to block the president’s plan. Virginia’s leaders must show their support for climate action.”


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