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The Olympics Can Hurt the Environment. Will the 2022 Beijing Games continue this trend?

The Olympics Can Hurt the Environment. Will the 2022 Beijing Games continue this trend?

The Olympic rings appear on a ski hill that lacks snow.

China and the International Olympic Committee have proclaimed the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Winter Olympics. Greenest and cleanest everBut many activists and experts have criticized the host city’s unsustainable practices. Concerns about the impact of the Olympic Games on the environment have been growing for years and are only getting worse as climate change threatens to escalate.

What are your concerns about the Beijing Olympics

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The Winter Olympics require snow to be on the ground for sports like skiing and snowboarding. However, the three venues for the 2022 games (Beijing and Yanqing) have arid climates. Snow reliability is a concern. Globally, global declineBeijing is not suitable for winter games due to planetary warming. much precipitationin the first place. Similar criticisms were levelled at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

Beijing is heavily reliant on artificial snowmaking as a way to compensate. consumes large quantitiesa greater dependence on electricity and water, which can result in higher carbon emissions. Carmen de Jong, a University of Strasbourg geographer, estimates that snowmaking for the two outdoor venues Zhangjiakou and Yanqing will require as much as five hundred million gallons of fresh water. Unsustainable to host games in a place or region that isn’t snowed in is not possible. De Jong states that creating events without the primary resource they depend on is not only unsustainable but also irresponsible.

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According to some, the snowmaking led to water being made. Get divertedFrom local farmers and residents, who are already struggling for the resource due to Beijing’s endemic. water shortage. Artificial snow also destroys native vegetationThey can also cause erosion and landslides. This will further increase the already-harmful impact on the environment of ski runs built in natural landscapes. These unsustainable practices could continue long after the games, if the Olympic venues were converted into permanent ski resorts. China’s environmentalists The cause of much excitementAfter learning that the planned ski runs ran through the Songshan Nature Reserve’s core, Beijing’s protected forest ecosystem,

What has Beijing said about the environmental impacts of the winter games?

Chinese officials believe the 2022 Olympics would be the most sustainable. Pointing toThe widespread use of hydrogen-powered vehicles and renewable energy. While scientists and activists may see this as a step forward, they argue that these measures are superficial and a PR stunt to hide larger sustainability issues. The high cost of snowmaking is only one of many environmental concerns related to site construction and energy consumption.

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Beijing plans to use carbon offsets, just like other hosts. These are carbon-reducing measures such as planting trees to offset increased emissions. Scientists question their efficacy, and criticize IOC for it. poor oversightHost cities fulfilling carbon-neutral promise

How has the Olympic Games impacted the environment?

Studies They have beenThe Olympics have been more damaging to the environment in recent decades, especially since they were introduced. Expanded in size and scope. More athletes, spectators and events emit more carbon and consume it. More natural resources. Olympic-related construction has also reshaped ecological landscapes, and displaced residents.

The Olympic rings appear on a ski hill that lacks snow.
In November 2021, one of the venues for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou can be seen without snow.
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

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In addition, countries that have less developed renewable infrastructure and protections for the environment are hosting the Olympics. Some host governments have been able to woo domestic opposition to the games by attracting large-scale prestige projects. Experts believe that the 2016 Rio Olympics and the Sochi Olympics have caused significant ecological damage. Construction, Toxic waste disposalUnsustainable building practices, and a lack of sustainable construction. Many developed democracies, however, are refusing to host the games due to the risk of environmental damage and ballooning costs. Beijing was chosen as the host for the 2022 Olympics ahead of Almaty (Kazakhstan), Stockholm, Sweden; Krakow Poland; and Lviv (Ukraine) Withdrew their bidsLack of public support.

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How will climate change impact the Olympics?

Scientists predict that the number of cities capable of hosting the Summer and Winter Olympics will drop as the planet heats. One study has been doneWithout significant reductions in emissions, 2080 would see an increase in temperatures that would make it possible for only eight cities to host the Winter Olympics again. Heat could also have an effect on the location of the Summer Olympics. Only 5 percent of cities that are currently viable in the Northern Hemisphere could be viable by 2085. Would be consideredCool enough to be used by athletes

Can the Olympics be sustained?

Experts recommend that organizers take several steps to increase the sustainability and viability of the Olympics.

  • Choose one or more cities to host the games each time, and reuse existing infrastructure. (Some Have suggestedRotating the games among representative cities on each continent, such Los Angeles in North America or London in Europe, or Tokyo in Asia, is possible.
  • Reduce the frequency of playing.
  • Reduce the number and competitions.
  • To reduce the travel footprint, limit the number of tourists.

Many observers remain skeptical that governments or the IOC could pivot, given the financial incentive and reputational rewards. Sven Daniel Wolfe, a political and urban geographer at the University of Lausanne, said that the chance to present your country as a great nation on a global stage is extremely valuable. I don’t think other countries will be willing to give up this prize.

Michael Bricknell designed the map for this In Brief.

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