ACTION ALERT: Stop NBC's Winter Olympics Whiteout
February 9, 2018
Public Citizen & Kendra Pierre-Louis / The New York Times & Henry Fountain / The New York Times
Jessie Diggins is a cross-country skier on the American women's team. Diggins is also an advocate for climate action. Yesterday, another Olympian spoke out about the need for immediate climate action. The New York Times told this story. But NBC -- the official network of the Winter Olympics -- did not. In fact, NBC has been silent on the ways climate change is impacting the Winter Olympics and its athletes. We no longer can talk about winter without talking about global warming.
ACTION ALERT: Olympians Are Speaking Out
About Climate Change but NBC Isn't Listening
(February 8, 2018) -- Yesterday, another Olympian spoke out about the need for immediate climate action. The New York Times told this story. But NBC, the official network of the Winter Olympics, did not.
In fact, NBC has been silent on the ways climate change is impacting the Winter Olympics and its athletes. We no longer can talk about winter without talking about global warming.
That’s why we are pressing NBC to cover climate. And we need you with us. Sign our petition to NBC before the Winter Olympics kicks into high gear tomorrow.
For more information about this campaign, see Allison Fisher’s alert below.
President, Public Citizen
Stop NBC's Winter Olympics Whiteout
Allison Fisher / Public Citizen
For athletes all over the world, the road to the Olympic Games in South Korea has been . . . slushy. And our warming world is to blame. There has been little to no snow in many of the places where Olympics athletes usually train. As a result, training has been cut short or forced athletes to travel to the far reaches of the globe to find suitable conditions.
They are literally chasing snow -- and seeing firsthand the impacts of climate disruption. US audiences should hear their stories, which make clear the immediacy of global warming.
In two weeks, NBC will start live coverage from the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Until then, the network will continue covering the "Road to Pyeongchang" -- featuring profiles on the athletes and stories about their journeys to qualifying for Team USA.
* Not one segment has examined the impact of climate on the athletes’ ability to prepare for Olympic competition.
* Not one segment has looked at the increasing number of Olympic athletes speaking out about the need for climate action.
* Not one segment has investigated the devastation global warming has brought to the communities -- where these US athletes come from -- whose identities and economies are built around winter sports and recreation.
It’s time for NBC to spend less time featuring stories about figure skating dress designers and Instagram accounts of Olympians’ dogs and more time covering the greatest threat humanity has ever known.
Urge NBC to cover climate change impacts on the Winter Olympics.
ACTION:>Sign the petition -- Ask NBC to Cover Climate Change
Stop NBC’s Winter Olympics Whiteout
Add Your Name to Urge NBC to
Cover Climate Change Impacts on the Winter Olympics.
We, the undersigned, call on NBC to incorporate climate change impacts into its Winter Olympics coverage. The climate crisis is affecting the communities that serve as the pipeline for winter Olympic athletes. Shorter and warmer winters, resulting from global warming, have meant shorter training seasons and deteriorating conditions for athletes preparing for competition.
A number of athletes representing the USA in this year’s games are prepared to speak out about the need for action to keep our winters cold. Ask them. And tell the story of climate change’s effect on their communities and their sport.
Copyright 2018 Public Citizen • 1600 20th Street, NW / Washington, D.C. 20009
The Thrill of Victory:
This Olympic Skier Wants to Save the World's Snow
Kendra Pierre-Louis / The New York Times
(February 7, 2018) -- Jessie Diggins is a cross-country skier on the American women's team and a favorite to win a medal at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. If she succeeds, it will be only the second time the United States has won a medal in the sport and the first for an American woman.
Diggins is also an advocate for climate action. I interviewed her to understand more about why she believes winter is worth protecting. (The following has been condensed and edited.)
How has climate change affected you?
Over the last 10 years, it has been hard to ski on real snow. Over the last three years, most venues have been exclusively on man-made snow. And in places like Davos, Switzerland, where they normally have three feet of snow, they've been snow farming and saving it for the next year because they don't even count on getting snow anymore. I've spoken to people in Switzerland who are losing their jobs because winter's going away.
How is skiing on man-made snow different?
It's a little faster. So the same World Cup courses that we race get more and more dangerous with man-made snow because it gets icy. One of my teammates broke his leg on a corner on a course where it never should have been as fast as it was. Real snow, it feels softer. It's not as hard when you fall.
What about people who say that fighting climate change is going to hurt the economy?
You can look at different solutions for the economy, but you only get one earth to live on, and you have to breathe the air that is on this earth. We have to do it in a way that doesn't hurt families economically, which is why I'm supporting the carbon fee and dividend solution, because it puts a fee on carbon and returns the revenue to households.
What do you say to those who say, 'You're just an athlete, stay in your lane'?
I'm also someone who lives on this planet. I think you need to be able to stand up for things you believe in, and saving winter is something I believe in. It just breaks my heart because this is such a cool sport, and winter is so amazing and beautiful and I feel like we're actually really at risk of losing it. And I don't want my kids to grow up in a world where they've never experienced snow because we weren't responsible enough.
. . . and the Agony of the Peat
Henry Fountain / The New York Times
(February 7, 2018) -- Indonesia has a peat problem, and it just awarded a $1 million prize to help solve it.
Peatlands -- thick layers of waterlogged, partially decomposed vegetation -- hold enormous amounts of carbon. Worldwide, by some estimates, they store twice as much as the world's forests. Indonesia, with 50 million acres of swampy peatlands, has the most peat in Asia and probably the most among tropical countries.
But over the past several decades, uncontrolled agricultural development has led to the draining and burning of Indonesian peatlands and the destruction of the forests that cover much of them.
The carbon in peat was removed from the atmosphere when the vegetation was growing, hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Burning it is like burning coal or oil -- it adds old carbon back into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
About 40 percent of Indonesia's carbon emissions come from burning peat. The fires also produce smoke and haze that pollutes the region's air. In 2015, the worst fires in decades may have led to 100,000 premature deaths across Southeast Asia.
Under international pressure to better manage its peatlands, the Indonesian government has taken some steps, including a very basic one: trying to accurately determine where the peat is.
Two years ago the government, with assistance from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the World Resources Institute, an environmental research group, opened a competition to develop an inexpensive and efficient method of mapping Indonesia's peat. Twenty-two teams entered.
Last week, the winner was announced, as selected by a scientific advisory board: a German remote-sensing firm, RSS, working with researchers in Europe and Indonesia. Calling itself the International Peat Mapping Team, the group takes home the $1 million prize.
The team's approach uses satellite imagery and radar- and laser-based data about elevations and terrain, coupled with coring of peatlands to determine thickness (some peatlands are as thick as 50 feet).
Florian Siegert, managing director of RSS and a professor at the University of Munich who has been studying peat in Indonesia and elsewhere for several decades, said he thought his team won because coring is precise, cost-efficient and easy to implement. "They don't need highly sophisticated technology," he said.
Dr. Siegert said the next step was for the Indonesian government to actually undertake a mapping program. By knowing more precisely where the peatlands are, the government can be more careful about where it grants concessions for agricultural development, and perhaps even revoke some concessions already granted.
Indonesia in the past has been accused of dragging its feet on its peat problem. But Dr. Siegert said he thought the government would follow through with a mapping program. "Now I think the international pressure is big enough," he said. "The fires in 2015 were so extensive."
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