Olympic athletes just won’t know what snow is (with apologies to Dr. David Viner)
With the winter Olympics taking center stage of world media right now it of course becomes a potential on-camera political opportunity for anybody with an idea and a sandwich board. So, predictably, somebody tried to make the winter Olympics all about “climate change”….and failed. Nutty Bill McKibben gave his endorsement:
There’s only one teensy little problem…
Here’s the plea from an organization called protectourwinters.org
US SKI TEAM MEMBER ANDREW NEWELL & 105 WINTER OLYMPIANS CALL FOR CLIMATE ACTION
Today, US Ski Team member, 2014 Olympian Andrew Newell, 105 Olympians and Protect Our Winters released a statement calling on world leaders to take action on climate change and to prepare a commitment to a global agreement prior to the Paris climate talks in 2015.The letter has been signed by 105 Olympians from countries that include: The United States, Switzerland, Norway, Estonia, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden. In addition to Newell, some of the 105 athletes include: US snowboarders Danny Davis and Arielle Gold, Switzerland’s Bettina Gruber, Norway’s Astrid Jacobsen and Italian ski jumper Elena Runggaldier.“Recognize climate change by reducing emissions, embracing clean energy and preparing a commitment to a global agreement at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris 2015.”
Among other things, it seems they are whining about the lack of snow at Sochi, a place where palm trees grow and climatically not that great of a place for a winter Olympics, but has been “geoengineered” as this news story tells us:
Sochi is not the most obvious place to host the Winter Olympics.
The Russian resort, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, is humid and subtropical. Temperatures average out at about 52 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, and 75 degrees in the summer. Palm trees line the streets, and it’s the only part of Russia warm enough to grow tea leaves. In other words, it’s a lovely spot if you’re planning a beach holiday — Stalin had his favorite summer house there — but it wouldn’t be most people’s first choice for a ski trip.
So it shouldn’t come as much surprise that transforming Rosa Khutor into an Olympic venue has been a rapid, expensive process. It’s estimated that the cost of staging the Olympics in Sochi has been greater than the previous three Winter Games combined — ballooning to a whopping $51 billion. A sizable chunk of that money has gone to dealing with the “whims of the weather,” as a spokesperson for Sochi 2014 put it in an email to The Verge.
“There is almost no snow here — at the moment it’s raining,” says Olga Mironova, a local resident. That’s exactly the problem that derailed the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 — buckets of snow had to be airlifted to top up the slushy covering on the hay bales that were being used to create artificial mounds in the tracks. Those emergency measures proved successful, but organizers admitted afterwards that they’d seriously underestimated the impact of climate change.
Apparently ‘climate change’ jumped in and made them choose a ridiculous venue at Sochi. Oy vey!
After McKibben made his tweet of support, a count of the list presented at http://protectourwinters.org was made, and summed up in this riposte:
105/2500 *100 = 4.2%
I can’t imagine why any athlete would want to be concerned with a political agenda that might deflect their concentration from the greatest moment of their lives. I’m surprised that even 4.2% of the winter Olympic athletes bothered.
Meanwhile, back in la-la land, we have this plea from Olympian organizer Andrew Newell
This year, while preparing for my third Olympic games in Sochi I had to ask myself: what’s changed? What has changed since that day in 1985 when I first experienced that thrill and came to love this sport? Thankfully, much is the same except there is no escaping that the once-consistent winters that I saw as a young kid are no more, especially near my home in Vermont.
Of course most of us know that athletes generally aren’t very smart when it comes to things outside their narrow field of expertise and training, but you’d think this “climatic community organizer” who says we have to “protect our winters” would at lease be able to do these two things:
1. Check the expected climatic conditions of Sochi
From Capital Weather Gang: The Games are being held during a stretch of the coastal city’s coldest winter stretch, with a daily average high of 49 degrees and low of 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Remarkably, Sochi’s daily average temperature values never drop below freezing at any time of the year. According to NASA, it’s the warmest host city for any winter Olympic games.
The daily average low (blue) and high (red) temperature with percentile bands (inner band from 25th to 75th percentile, outer band from 10th to 90th percentile. (WeatherSpark)
2. Check the weather report back home and snow depth in his home town of Bennington, Vermont:
Eh, maybe not.
It seems the winter snow extent trend is on the rise in Northern hemisphere, from Rutgers snow lab:
So tell me again, why do our winters need protection?
UPDATE: Dr. Luboš Motl weighs in: Sochi, swimming, climate, activism