Greenpeace at the Winter Olympics

Feature story - February 5, 2002
While much of the attention will be on the sports competition at the winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, Greenpeace is doing a series of activities to spotlight the danger global warming poses to winter sports, hence, the winter Olympics.

While much of the attention will be on the sports competition at the winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, Greenpeace is doing a series of activities to spotlight the danger global warming poses to winter sports, hence, the winter Olympics.

Global Warming is Gaining on Winter

Global warming is literally a threat to winter, which impacts winter tourism and eventually the Olympic games. Already, winters are getting shorter and warmer, especially in Northern latitudes. Global warming has already impacted winter sports as shown by the cancellation last November of the World Cup Downhill in Utah. Also, warmer temperatures means snow melts earlier in the year, cutting winter tourism short.

Scientists expect these trends to continue, with more winter rain instead of snow in certain regions and more extreme year-to-year fluctuations in snow and other regions. Warmer temperatures mean snow melts earlier in the year. Other impacts of global warming on winter include:

Decreased water supply - winter snowfall affects the supply of summer water. Scientists are already tracking the decrease in snowpack and early melt of this snow which lead to reduced water supply throughout the summer. Global warming hurts water supplies needed for agriculture, residential and industrial uses and for hydropower.

Decreased winter tourism - Many northern and mountain communities are dependent on revenues from winter tourism. People come for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice-fishing. Shifts in the predictability of winter make a big difference to these communities.

El Niño - El Niño is the periodic Pacific Ocean warming phenomenon that disrupts normal weather around the world and has broad impact on winter weather in the U.S. El Niño is happening more frequently in recent years and is predicted to become even more common as global warming progresses.

U.S. Losing the Race to Stop Global Warming

Read the new Greenpeace report, Losing the Clean Energy Race: How the U.S. Can Retake the Lead and Solve Global Warming.

Germany, Japan, Denmark, and others are way out in front and making great strides in the race for clean energy to curb global warming. Thanks to bad government policies, like backing out of the Kyoto Protocol, the US is barely even competing.

For decades, we have relied on fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas to meet our energy needs - and now we are facing the consequences. Global warming, a direct result of the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released when fossil fuels are burned, is a reality we cannot ignore.

Read more about extreme weather events:

National Climatic Data Center report on December 2001

Climataology of Northern Utah US Government report

Weather Channel Current US snow cover map

Weather Extremes National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Buffalo Christmas storm and Global Warming?

Feeling Heat on the Slopes: Global Warming is Changing New England's Winter Landscape

All is not lost, however. Local governments across the US are taking the lead in finding solutions, and demanding clean energy now:

The Seattle city council on July 23, 2001, pledged that the city would meet or beat the targets of the Kyoto Protocol treaty to fight global warming (a treaty endorsed by all the world's industrialized nations except the US).

On November 8, 2001, voters in San Francisco passed by a wide margin in initiative that commits the city to buying large amounts of solar power.

On August 26, 2001, the governors of the New England states committed to reductions in carbon dioxide output.

On the ground Greenpeace drew international attention to positive solutions to global warming during the Winter Olympics with a variety of public activities.

Political Cartoonist Teams Up with Greenpeace to Spotlight the Dangers of Global Warming

Greenpeace Earth Balloon Floats Over Winter Olympics Sites

The Real Challenge!

Greenpeace is challenging the Bush Administration to show some leadership by reducing greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide; ending our outdated and dangerous reliance on oil, coal, nukes and natural gas; approving the Kyoto Protocol; and investing and promoting clean, safe, forward reaching energy sources like solar and wind power.