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