Getting world leaders to discuss climate change is something that has been notoriously difficult, but Andy Newell, a U.S. cross country skier competing in Sochi this year, is using the Olympic spotlight to bring attention to the issue, hoping global attention on winter sports could highlight the dangers of climate change.
Over the last two months, he has been rallying his fellow Olympic competitors to sign a letter calling on world leaders to come together on a comprehensive climate agreement in Paris in 2015. So far, 82 athletes have signed the letter, which makes an emotional plea to address the issue. Here’s part of the letter:
As winter Olympic athletes, our lives revolve around the winter and if climate change continues at this pace, the economies of the small towns where we live and train will be ruined, our sports will be forever changed and the winter Olympics as we know it will be a thing of the past.
The power we have as Olympians on a global stage is immense. Let’s use this year to make a collective statement, to send a message to the world’s leaders to recognize the impact of climate change and to take action now.
A joint Australian-Canadian study recently made headlines for predicting that 13 of the last 19 Winter Olympic locations, including Sochi, won’t be suitable for winter sports by the end of the century, if the pace of climate change continues.