It’s no surprise that a warming globe is hard on cold-weather sports – on their participants and fans, the businesses they support, and their importance to local cultures. As the 2022 Winter Olympics unfold in China, let’s consider some specifics.
Though most of what follows focuses on North America, the problems are global: “Photos of abandoned ski lifts and snowless slopes reveal the toll that rising temperatures are taking on winter resorts” (Holly Secon, Business Insider, 2020).
Warmer (and less reliable) temperatures affect the whole range of outdoor winter sports: from Alaska’s dog-mushing Iditarod race, through ice skating, hockey, and ice fishing, to Nordic or cross-country skiing:
- “The last great race” (Kelly Kimball, Foreign Policy)
- “Outdoor hockey traditions under shadow of climate change” (Stephen Whyno, AP News)
- “How climate change is affecting outdoor skating” (NHL), as tracked partly through a citizen science project
- “On the ice in a warming world” (Ben Ratner, Belt), a very nice story-based essay
- “What climate change means for the future of ice fishing in Minnesota” (Greta Kaul, Great Lakes Now)
- “Climate change makes the future of Nordic skiing uncertain”(Martha Bellisle, AP News)
- And Wisconsin’s iconic American Birkebeiner race (Climate Wisconsin, video and story), where participants are doing what they can to work for what they love
Because of the size of the industry and its popularity, downhill skiing and snowboarding have been written about the most when it comes to the effects of climate change. Here are some especially illuminating stories:
- On the 2022 Olympics, where all the snow will be conspicuously manufactured: “In parched Beijing, claims of a ‘green’ Olympics may not hold water” (Christian Shepherd, Washington Post)
- “How the ski industry stopped worrying and learned to love climate activism” (Jenessa Duncombe, Eos: an excellent, thorough, and unusual article to see from this American Geophysical Union publication); and on this move toward activism, “Turning skiers into climate voters with the advocacy potential of the NRA” (Judy Fahys, Inside Climate News)
- It’s not just shorter, warmer winters that threaten skiing. Wildfire does too. “Fires, landslides, lack of snow: the ski industry girds for battle” (Tim Neville, NYT); and (shorter, more narrowly focused, but the same main points without a paywall) “Rising temperatures, extreme drought and giant wildfires batter Colorado ski industry” (Vicky Collins, NBC News).
Finally, back to the Winter Olympics, for this interactive story about some unsettling recent research: “Rising temperatures threaten future of Winter Olympics, say experts” (Neils de Hoog, The Guardian)
This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to her any time. Let us hear from you.