Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What is the Future for the Summer Olympics with Global Warming?

The last Summer Olympics? Climate change, health, and work outdoors (Kirk. R. Smith, The Lancet, Aug. 13, 2016)

Also discussed here: When Will It Get Too Hot to Hold the Summer Olympics? (Linda Poon, MSN, Aug. 15, 2016)

And here: By 2085, most cities could be too hot for the Summer Olympics (Chris Mooney, Washington Post, Aug. 16, 2016)

And here: Are the Winter Olympics at Risk because of Global Climate Warming? (Pollution Free Cities, Mar.5, 2014)

Today we review a new report about the feasibility of holding the summer Olympic games when the temperatures and humidity get to levels unsafe for vigorous activities. Just as lack of cold and snow will make the choice of sites for Winter Olympics difficult, so it is with high levels of heat and moisture in the air with the Summer Olympics The authors predict that with the course climate warming is on now that, in 50-60 years (2085), there will only be 8 cities out of 543 cities outside western Europe that would be “low risk” or acceptable. This same threat applies more generally to anyone attempting to work or exercise physically outdoors during the summer heat.


Key Quotes:

"You could take a risk, and plan your Olympics, and maybe not get the hot days you expect, but that would be a big risk when there are many billions of dollars at stake,”

“The core issue is that if there’s too much humidity, it [wet-bulb temperature] limits our ability to use evaporation, through sweating, to cool down our bodies…it’s come to be understood as the best indicator of heat stress on the body…At 98 degrees and 100 percent humidity, you can walk slowly outdoors, but if you try to run, you can actually die. It’s a matter of just the basic physics of it,”

 “with even a 10 percent chance of these extreme conditions, the Olympics couldn’t be held..” “if you assume that a 26 degree Celsius .. wet bulb globe temperature (in the shade) is the limit, then “only eight (1·5%) of 543 cities outside of western Europe would meet the low-risk category for the Games in the year 2085. If you go farther and push the danger zone up to 28 degrees C (82.4 F), then 33 more cities would be viable.”

“Projections out to the early 22nd century, which carry even more uncertainty, suggest the last cities in the northern hemisphere with low-risk summer conditions for the Games will be Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, and Glasgow,”

“the larger point is not about the Olympics, but rather, about people who work outdoors and who are massively more numerous than elite athletes. These are the individuals who will really suffer the most from an increasing risk of heat stress going forward.”

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