We Need Winter To Have Winter Games

The newest Olympic sport you’ve never heard of is fast-paced and exciting. It’s called bobwheeling, and it’s poised to take the world by storm — because, unlike other Winter Olympic games, bobwheeling doesn’t require ice or snow. And that’s a good thing, because snow and ice are in short supply in Vancouver this week as the Winter Olympics get under way. (Too bad D.C. wasn’t a contender!)

Okay, okay, there is no such thing as bobwheeling. It’s actually a promotional stunt created by the “official offsetter” of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. But it’s also a really clever way of pointing out that unchecked global warming jeopardizes the future of all winter sports.

Frenzied reports have been coming in for weeks about the snow situation in Vancouver, which by all accounts is not good. Snow is being saved under tarps, according to some of those reports. More snow is being trucked in from surrounding areas. And even these efforts are expected to fall short, so the snow will likely have to be “enhanced” by sand and hay underneath.

Winter sports in general are taking a hit. World Cup ski races, for instance, have been having a tough time. In 2006, five events were canceled because of the poor snow conditions. So far this year, at least six events have been canceled. Some events have been saved only by trucking in several hundred thousand cubic feet of snow, and it’s not uncommon for these events to be held on thin strips of snow laid down amidst green pastures or mounds of dirt.

Of course, snow is weather, and weather is not climate. It’s impossible to draw a direct correlation between the snow situation in Vancouver right now and global warming, just as the record snowfalls on the East Coast this week don’t disprove global warming.

But climate scientists have long predicted that rising global temperatures would result, in general, in less snow due to shorter and warmer winters. And if the perilous state of winter sports are any indication, those predictions are, sadly, being borne out.

Photo credit: US Army

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