Free Range Free Chat

Happy Monday News Viewers — this is our Monday Free Chat — Free Range has an environmental bent but it’s an open forum, anything goes, everything stays, yada yada, (of course, we DO still respect the “Don’t be an A-Hole” rule 🙂

And today I’m thinking of The Winter Olympics, or really the memory of something that used to be The Olympics. What we see now is a display of fiction and fakery so blatant that, like fiction, it’s impossible to believe. The Olympics have been moving toward reality TV for a long time now. This year with 100 percent fake snow, a metaphor for concealment; we have a slick production showing international competition which masks plans for wars, a planet in trouble, human abuses and an out of control contagion we are pretending to control.

I waited hours, I waited weeks,
Yet you could still see those mountain peaks.
“The snow will not come this year,” I thought.
Not a single dot. . . .

Kathleen Sorensen

In an Olympic first, though not an achievement to boast about, climate change has forced the Winter Games to be virtually 100% reliant on artificial snow — part of a trend that is taking place across winter sports venues around the world.

Just one of the 21 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics in the past 50 years will have a climate suitable for winter sports by the end of the century, a recent study found, if fossil fuel emissions remain unchecked.

As the planet warms and the weather becomes increasingly more erratic, natural snow is becoming less reliable for winter sports, which forces venues to lean more on artificial snow.

But it comes at a cost: human-made snow is incredibly resource-intensive, requiring massive amounts of energy and water to produce in a climate that’s getting warmer and warmer. Elite athletes also say that the sports themselves become trickier and less safe when human-made snow is involved.

“In sports like biathlon or cross-country skiing or any of the freestyle events where an athlete is flinging themself into the air flipping around and falling, you would want the surface to be a little softer. And the problem with artificial snow is that it’s about 70% ice, compared to natural snow which is about 30% ice. And so, the surface is much, much harder,” said report co-author Madeleine Orr, a sports ecologist at Loughborough University, in an interview with VOA.

VOA News

“There have been recent technological advances that allow for the generation of snow when it is above freezing,” explained Jordy Hendrikx, the director of the Snow and Avalanche Laboratory at Montana State University. “This is not your ‘light fluffy’ snow that you might think of — it is much denser and not very soft.”


Making snow demands significant resources, namely energy and water. “Obviously we need more energy the warmer it gets,” Mayr said. And with 1.2 million cubic meters of snow needed to cover roughly 800,000 square meters of competition area, according to the Slippery Slopes report, the water demand at this year’s Winter Olympics is massive. The International Olympic Committee estimated that 49 million gallons of water will be needed to produce snow for The Games, which is a lot when you consider how rapidly the world is running out of freshwater. To the point, it’s . . . a day’s worth of drinking water for nearly 100 million people.

Poem from FamilyFriend Poems

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