Ten Miles Square


March 27, 2013 11:27 AM Adapting to Climate Change and the 2014 Winter Olympics

By Matthew Kahn

Sochi, Russia knows what happens when temperatures rise above 32 degrees F. The Winter Olympics is less fun in the slush. Anticipating this challenge could arise at the 2014 Winter Olympics, the Olympic organizers have a contingency plan.

There is a plan, and it does not include helicopters and hay bales. Sochi organizers, fully aware of the problems in Vancouver, have installed what they say is the biggest snowmaking operation in Europe. More than 400 snowmaking cannons, each looking a bit like a jet engine, are continually spitting streams of crystals for next year’s Olympics.
On the advice of a Finnish company called Snow Secure, the goal this season is to stockpile 500,000 cubic meters of snow into 10 shady pockets above the venues. The massive piles will be covered by insulated blankets, not unlike giant yoga mats, to protect them from the heat of summer.
Up to half of the saved snow may melt by next winter, but the site managers said they could conduct the Olympics even in the unlikely event that no natural snow falls next winter.”

Anticipating a challenge, free markets have delivered a partial solution. This dance step will be seen again and again in our hotter future. This is why I wrote Climatopolis.

[Originally posted at The Reality-based Community]

Matthew Kahn is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles's Institute of the Environment. He specializes in the environmental consequences of urban growth and related quality-of-life issues.


  • Anonymous on March 27, 2013 9:10 PM:

    Anticipating a challenge, free markets have delivered a partial solution.

    It's an arrogant solution at best, if not downright asinine. Too much carbon melting the snow? Burn a bunch more to make fake snow in the heat of summer. Shit like this is why the species is headed for a deserved extinction.

    I don't have any fancy economics degrees, but common sense suggests that your premise for Climatopolis is faulty. A wildly fluctuating climate will likely favor small pockets of civilization, groups of people that are closer to nature and capable of living off the land. Cities are likely to be too top heavy, too dependent on outside resources, and too vulnerable to supply line interruption. Societal norms that we've become accustomed to are likely to crumble when the going gets rough. Anyway, I guess we'll soon find out who's right.