Climate Change and the Future of Sport

Talking Trash with Chloe Kim

Snowboarder and Olympic gold medallist Chloe Kim joins climate expert Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson to talk about the effects of climate change on the future of sport and playing our part to help protect the planet.

Last updated: September 23, 2021
7 min read
Talking Trash with Chloe Kim
Talking Trash with Chloe Kim

Take Action.

We have the power to make a difference. Here are some resources and youth-led organisations that are putting plans into motion.

Talking Trash with Chloe Kim

Climate Change and Sports

By Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

I talked to Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim about our mutual appreciation for snow, our shared worry about what a warming world means for the places and activities we love—and what we can do about it.

Here are the key takeaways from our conversation, looking at climate through the lens of sport:

Climate change is having a drastic impact on snowfall and temperatures, and therefore on winter sports.

Snow seasons are growing shorter and less reliable—with fewer snow days but more big storms. Snowpack in the western US has decreased by 30% in the last century. And these changes in snowfall not only affect winter sports, but also things like our drinking water supply, which in many places is dependent on winter snow melt.

If we don't address the climate crisis, the outlook for sports is dire.

From marathons to little league games, opportunities for athletes to train will be increasingly limited. Within 30 years, we'll start running out of places with conditions cold enough to engage in winter sports. Elite athletes can travel in search of fresh snow or air conditioned gyms, but the ability to play outdoors may become more of a privilege.

Talking Trash with Chloe Kim
Talking Trash with Chloe Kim

"The climate crisis is affecting my sport and athletes all over the world. Real snow has become a luxury. We need to use our voices and work together to make change happen".

Chloe Kim
Snowboarder and Olympic Gold Medallist

Changing climate affects an athlete's performance.

Extreme heat disrupts the body's thermoregulation, and we are now seeing temperatures so hot that they are pushing up against the human body's ability to be outside at all, let alone play sports. Poor snow conditions increase the chances of injury. Poor air quality—both pollution and from forest fires fuelled by climate change—is dangerous for our respiratory systems.


Raise our collective voice.

No one person can solve this alone. So harness the power of your collective voice. Use your platform to amplify important information. Join a group pushing for the big changes we need. Pay attention to Climate Week and the United Nations' COP26 (a big climate negotiation) and encourage corporations and governments to strengthen and accelerate their commitments to climate action.

Channel your fear and concern into action.

The more you do to be part of the solutions, the better you will feel. And we already have most of the solutions we need! You don't have to know all the scientific details and technical terms. Just focus on moving solutions forwards using the power of your voice, vote, money, network and your skills.

Some resources:

There's lots of good info about the connections between a stable climate and sports here.

For more tips, check out episode #1 of this Talking Trash series, where I talked to Billie Eilish about what you—specifically you—can do to accelerate climate solutions. We need you.

Talking Trash with Chloe Kim
Talking Trash with Chloe Kim

"You don't have to know all the scientific details and technical terms. Just focus on moving solutions forwards using the power of your voice, vote, money, network and your skills".

Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
Climate Expert and Marine Biologist

Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer and Brooklyn native. She is co-founder of the non-profit think tank Urban Ocean Lab, co-founder of the climate initiative The All We Can Save Project, and co-creator of the podcast How to Save a Planet. Find her @ayanaeliza.

4 Tips for Showing Up for Climate Change

Talking Trash with Chloe Kim

Jerome Foster II is a climate activist and founder of One Million of Us—a youth-led organisation focused on empowering the next generation of voters.

Talking Trash with Chloe Kim

1) Be confident! Know that when you walk into the room, you're representing the future and your generation.

Talking Trash with Chloe Kim

2) Do your research. Educate yourself beforehand. Have the facts to hand. Know your stuff and don't compromise on the issues, policies and programmes you believe are important and that the broader climate movement has built over the last few years.

Talking Trash with Chloe Kim

3) Ensure marginalised voices are represented. Make sure leaders are considering the needs of Black and Brown communities, Indigenous folx and those who are on the front lines of both caring about and feeling the effects of climate change.

Talking Trash with Chloe Kim

4) Don't let them look down on you. Your voice is important and you are representing an entire generation that will have to live with the decisions being made today.

Talking Trash with Chloe Kim
Talking Trash with Chloe Kim

Move to Zero is Nike's journey towards zero carbon and zero waste to help protect the planet. Follow each step in our journey towards creating a more sustainable future.

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