As our attention turns to the glitz, glamor, and excitement of the Winter Olympics, it's time to consider climate change-yes, climate change.
The element of snow is required for many winter Olympic events, but there is much worrisome information about the growing shortage of snow throughout the world. Consider a few facts: the storage 16 million cubic feet of snow last year by the Russian government under insulated blankets to ensure its presence this year for the outdoor Olympic events; the numerous snow-making guns at Olympic venues; and the fact that only 10 of the previous 19 sites of winter Olympics would be able to hold outdoor events now because of lack of snow, and only six would be able to by the year 2100.
As the global temperature is expected to rise by 7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, snow will continue to disappear all over the northern hemisphere. Some in the Mid-Ohio Valley and the northeast derisively ridicule the notion of climate change and global warming as they point to our unrelenting winter storms and consistent sub-freezing temperatures this season. But you need to look further than your front window to understand the extent and seriousness of climate change.
Since the 1850s, Europe has lost half of its Alpine glacial ice, and two-thirds of European ski resorts are expected to close by 2100. In the northeast U.S., over half of ski resorts will not be viable in 30 years. The diminished snow cover and record-setting drought in California have been as much part of our news as has been the serious winters in the northeast.
Since 1970, the rate of winter warming per decade has been three times the rate of the previous 75 years, and nine of the world's 10 hottest years on record have occurred since the year 2000.
The cause of all this climate change and global warming is, as the vast majority of credible scientists have concluded, human induced and likely attributable to greenhouse gas emissions.
The solution to this problem is complex, but knowable. It includes support for the president's Climate Action Plan, legislative action on the plan for carbon cap-and-trade or even a carbon tax, and national and state policies to move us away from the use of fossil fuels to power electricity-generating plants, automobiles, and other sources of energy production.
Best wishes to all the athletes of the 2014 Winter Olympics, and may they and their aspiring successors continue to sail down snow-covered slopes.