Today, US Ski Team member, 2014 Olympian Andrew Newell, 105 Olympians and Protect Our Winters released a statement calling on world leaders to take action on climate change and to prepare a commitment to a global agreement prior to the Paris climate talks in 2015.
The letter has been signed by 105 Olympians from countries that include: The United States, Switzerland, Norway, Estonia, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden. In addition to Newell, some of the 105 athletes include: US snowboarders Danny Davis and Arielle Gold, Switzerland’s Bettina Gruber, Norway’s Astrid Jacobsen and Italian ski jumper Elena Runggaldier.
“Recognize climate change by reducing emissions, embracing clean energy and preparing a commitment to a global agreement at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris 2015.”
The entire list of athletes is detailed below.
AN OLYMPIAN’S CALL FOR CLIMATE ACTION
By Andrew Newell, US Ski Team 2014
Kicking and gliding on snow is my life. From a very early age, the feeling of weightlessness and sliding across the snow has brought me true joy and a deep connection to nature. I was too young to remember but fortunate enough to have a photo of my first time skiing in December 1985, at my grandparent’s house just outside of Philadelphia. I had just learned to walk, so I gave it a try with skis on the few inches of snow we had in the backyard.
This year, while preparing for my third Olympic games in Sochi I had to ask myself: what’s changed? What has changed since that day in 1985 when I first experienced that thrill and came to love this sport? Thankfully, much is the same except there is no escaping that the once-consistent winters that I saw as a young kid are no more, especially near my home in Vermont.
As a result of this heightened awareness of climate change, many of us who spend our lives in the snow are more aware of its effects and have changed our lifestyles to be respectful of the health of the environment. We recycle, we try to consume less,
we use our vote to try to influence policy. We’re also using the platform we have as athletes to speak out in the media and to mobilize the winter sports community to join us. We’re doing our best.
But what can be said about Washington? What can be said about governments all around the world? Where is the big legislation that can implement real change we need?
This is what prompted me to partner with Protect Our Winters and rally over one hundred fellow winter Olympians to present a letter to world leaders; “Recognize climate change by reducing emissions, embracing clean energy and preparing a commitment to a global agreement at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris 2015.” Olympians from around the world, from every winter discipline have signed this letter, a sign of solidarity against climate change and a clear signal to world leaders that, as representatives of the 65 million member snow sports community, we need them to step up with real progress.
The urgency of this letter is not to be taken lightly since time is definitely something we do not have on our side. This year alone, nearly half of the FIS cross country World Cup international competitions have taken place on artificial snow. Even last year in Sochi, several pre Olympic skiing and snowboarding events had to be canceled because of poor conditions, something that has been a consistent problem both in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Snow conditions are becoming much more inconsistent, weather patterns more erratic, and what was once a topic for discussion is now reality and fact. Our climate is changing and we are losing our winters.
There is no doubt about it. As someone who spends my life in the mountains, I’m seeing the effects of climate change first-hand. But a recent study by Daniel Scott put it in the context of the sport we’re all celebrating over the next two weeks. With a rise in the average global temperature of more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit possible by 2100, there might not be that many host cities left in which to hold the Games. In fact, of the 19 cities which have already hosted the Winter Olympics, as few as 10 might be cold enough to host it by 2050, and only 6 by 2100. As an Olympian, that’s a scary and sobering thought.
My home in Southern Vermont, like many low altitude areas, potentially has the bleakest future when it comes to snow. The image of a two-year-old boy experiencing his first backyard ski at Christmas, just like I once did, is becoming more and more rare. Environmentalist and writer Porter Fox warns that without the typical December snowfalls of the past decades there is talk of nearly half the ski resorts in the Northeast having to close their doors within the next 30 years. The economic devastation for New England would be incredible, not to mention how snowless winters would affect our culture and our communities and the foundation on which our families are built.
The continued loss of snow is only the beginning, and unless changes can be made at a federal level, it will be more than our skiing that’s at stake. I’m not an environmental science major, I’m not a scientist, in fact I didn’t even go to college, but just like most Americans, I know that as the snow dwindles so does our water supply, our food, our health and our economy and unless our governments can stop letting politics get in the way of common sense we’re all in for some more sobering and painful environmental changes that will truly change the face of this planet. It’s time to truly urge the leaders of this world to take action.
For the next two weeks, I’ll be in Sochi giving it my all on the ski course, just like thousands of Olympics athletes from around the world putting politics, religion, all of our differences aside to come together in the spirit of competition. Coming together for something that is bigger than one individual, or even one country.
Next year in Paris, world leaders will also have that chance. Previous climate conferences have ended with nothing to show for it, but Paris needs to be different. We can’t risk inaction any longer and we’re asking our world leaders to come together in the spirit of something bigger than just our individual goals.
On behalf of the more than 100 Olympians that have signed this letter, we’re urging you to act in Paris to set limits on global emissions and take meaningful steps forward in fighting climate change. It can be done and let’s use the global stage of the Olympics as the call to action.
Andy Newell United States Sophie Caldwell United States Ida Sargent United States Erik Bjornsen United States Noah Hoffman United States Simi Hamilton United States Jessie Diggins United States Callan Chythlook-Sifsof United States Katie Ryan United States Lindsay Van United States Dylan Fergusen United States Alex Deibold United States Brace Bennett United States Bryan Fletcher United States Wiley Maple United States Lila Lapanja United States NIck Hendrickson United States Brett Denney United States Madison Gorelik United States Alison Lee United States Taylor Fletcher United States Tyler Smith United States Michael Ward United States Adam Loomis United States Joe Swensson United States Brant Crossan United States Liz Stephen United States Jenna Feldman United States Ian Griffith United States Abby Ghent United States Arielle Gold United States Tyler Gold United States Chris Klebl United States Kikkan Randall United States Bettina Gruber Switzerland Astrid Jacobsen Norway Nate Holland United States Kjersti Buaas Norway kaitlyn farrington United States Arielle Gold United States Bryan Fletcher United States Nick Hendrickson United States Michael Ward United States Susan Dunklee United States Sara Studebaker United States Edward Dombroski United States Barb Saxe United States Kadri Lehtla Estonia Caroline Grace United States Sylvan Ellefson United States Grete Gaim Estonia Rosanna Crawford Canada Lydia Lassila Australia Michael Jones United States Nigel Spratt Australia Silvia Duman Australia Sadie Bjornsen United States Sarah Ainsworth United Kingdom Laura Dahlmeier Germany Lowell Bailey United States Annelies Cook United States Lauren Miles United States Catherine Guglielmo United States David Zabek United States Jessica Jerome United States Alissa Johnson United States Nina Lussi United States Abby Hughes United States Atsuko Tanaka Canada Taylor Henrich Canada David Newell United States Lilla Fortunoff United States Hannah Dreissigacker United States Tim Burke United States Julien Lizeroux France vibeke skofterud Norway Anna Haag Sweden Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess United States Brian Gregg United States Dasha Gaiazova Canada Elena Runggaldier Italy Zachary Caldwell United States David Paarlberg-Kvam United States Sarah Holton United States Kris Dobie United States Rob Russell United States Ed Luban United States Matt Muir United States Lise Grottenberg Norway Thomas Wisdom United States Sam Pratico United States Koby Gordon United States Marine Dusser United States Asa Chalmers United States Lori Horn United States Mike Pratico United States Sarah Willis United States Gretchen Bleiler United States Danny Davis United States Faye Gulini United States Spencer Davis United States Elena Hight United States Chanelle Sladics United States Sam Bliss United States