Olympians Sign Climate Change Petition

Want to protect winter sports for future generations

Feb 13, 2014
Outside Magazine

If climate change continues, how long will we be able to enjoy winter sports?    Getty Images/iStockphoto

Prompted by mild temperatures in Sochi, Winter Olympians have signed a petition pushing global leaders to fight climate change, USA Today reports. So far, 105 athletes from 10 countries, including 85 Americans, have pledged their support.

The petition's bottom line is simple: Unchecked climate change could eventually eliminate winter sports and the Winter Olympics.

The athletes have provided more than vague words of criticism. The petition includes specific fixes to the problem, including reducing carbon dioxide emissions, embracing clean energy technologies, and preparing a successful agreement at the United Nations' 2015 climate convention in Paris.

"Olympians from around the world, from every winter discipline, have signed this letter, a sign of solidarity against climate change and a clear signal to world leaders that, as representatives of the 65 million-member snow sports community, we need them to step up with real progress," the petition reads.

The athletes joined with Protect Our Winters, a climate advocacy group founded in 2007 by snowboarder Jeremy Jones, to publish the petition, titled Olympic Athletes Against Climate Change.

"I want my kids and their kids to be able to enjoy the outdoors the same way I did," says U.S. snowboarder Alex Deibold, who claimed that the Vermont training camps he frequented as a teenager have become warmer and lack adequate snow.

Temperatures in Sochi have cracked 60 degrees, leading to safety complaints by some athletes.

A January study by Canada's University of Waterloo found that only 11 of the previous 19 Winter Olympic host cities will still be cold enough to host the games in 2050. Only six will be viable at the turn of the next century.

The warming trend for Winter Olympic host cities isn't new. From 1920 to 1959, February daytime temperatures in host cities averaged 33 degrees, versus 38 degrees in the latter portion of the 20th century, and 46 degrees since 2000.

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