Olympic athletes joined with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations to call on Canada to save the winter Olympics and end the oil sands destruction. Amid unusually warm weather and lack of snow, the Vancouver Olympics are quickly becoming an international embarrassment; a headline on The Guardian website this week blared “Vancouver Games Continue Downhill Slide From Disaster to Calamity“. Reuters reported that:
Vancouver’s Olympic smile is slipping. The beautiful city’s “Sea to Sky” Games seem to be sinking into a sea of meltwater, mud and straw while organizers scramble to get the extravaganza back on track.
This week prominent winter Olympians went public about their concerns over the connection between climate change and Canada’s production of “the dirtiest oil on earth”.
“Canada has some of the best snowboarding in the world, but the oil sands industry is going to blow it. This is the dirtiest oil on earth. If we want to save our snow, we have to stop it.”
Mike Richter, Olympic hockey goalie and silver medalist said:
“We can’t seriously combat global warming while getting fuel from the world’s dirtiest source. Unless we act now to combat climate change, it could put an end to the winters we know and love.”
World champion freeskier and founder of the Save Our Snow Foundation Alison Gannett said she had already witnessed glaciers melting and ski areas closing around the world because of climate change. She went on to say:
“The global warming emissions from the oil sands are a threat to the future of skiing and the health of our kids.”
Increasing concern over the impact of global warming on the future of snow sports is putting a spotlight on Canada’s oil sands industry, the country’s fastest growing source of global warming pollution and the dirtiest form of oil in the world.
Yesterday, Sierra Club launched a U.S.-based “Love Winter, Hate the Oil Sands” campaign that includes ads targeting winter sports enthusiasts, a new website, a sticker giveaway, and tens of thousands of emails asking Americans to sign a petition to President Obama. Their press release stated:
Oil sands production emits three times the global warming pollution as conventional oil and requires clear cutting ancient forests, wasting and polluting water, and leaving behind massive toxic lakes. By accelerating climate change, the oil sands threaten to bring more drought, receding glaciers, and early snowmelt, creating a bleak future for Olympic sports like skiing and snowboarding.
The industry has proposed expanding into the U.S. via a sprawling network of pipelines and refineries that would crisscross Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota and Illinois, in many cases using substandard pipe and threatening drinking water and farmland.
“If we allow the oil sands to expand into America, it will undermine all we’ve done to create good, clean, homegrown American energy. By denying permits for these pipelines, we can signal to the rest of the world that our nation is serious about becoming a global leader in the clean energy economy,” said Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope.
Opposition to the oil sands is growing as people learn more about the industry. Just last week, two Fortune 500 companies, Whole Foods and Bed Bath and Beyond, announced they were going to remove the oil sands from their supply chains. On an interesting side note, Whole Foods shares jumped 8% this week.
BC-based environmental watchdog Dogwood Initiative is participating in spreading the “Save Winter” campaign. They guided “Team Polar Bear” through the city of Vancouver in an effort to rescue the Winter Olympics from the oil sands industry. According to their website:
With record temperatures threatening the Vancouver 2010 Olympic games, an unexpected team from the north has appeared to rescue the Olympics, only by saving winter itself.
Meet Team Polar Bear, a family of three furry giants, that has traveled South to get to the bottom of the disappearing snow in their arctic home, only to discover that Canada, the country that prides itself on its frosty fortitude, is itself one of the worst climate culprits.
If you, too, want to protect winter and save our snow, you can send a message to President Obama to stop America’s dependence on the tar sand’s dirty oil by clicking here. To send a message to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, click here for contact information. You can visit Save Our Snow’s Facebook page here. After you’ve taken action, get out for a walk or a cross country ski and enjoy the winter that we have right now!