The World Resources Institute (WRI), A U.S. environmental group, says future Winter Olympics could be in jeopardy because of global warming. Winters will be shorter and warmer, and there may not be enough snow for the competition. The problem will affect Europe as well as north America. The 2006 Winter Olympic Games are due to be held in the Italian city of Turin.

Jonathan Lash, WRI?s president, says, ?Global warming threatens future Winter Olympic Games. Just as Salt Lake has done, we urge potential host cities to seriously consider the consequences of global warming. There is no more weather-dependent event than the Winter Games, and they are at risk. Ski areas that previously could be depended on for fabulous conditions by December and January now have green slopes where formerly giant slaloms took place.?

WRI says climate scientists estimate that half the glaciers in the world?s alpine regions could disappear in the next century. In the U.S., Montana?s Glacier national park, which had 150 glaciers in 1850, will have none by 2030. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expects changing snowfall patterns in Europe will harm winter tourism in Austria, Switzerland and France.

The WRI website says, ?The International Olympics Committee added environment to sport and culture as the third principle of Olympism in 1994. Salt Lake City was the first city to win the bid after the element was added. Climate protection is a key goal of the 2002 Winter Games. [The Salt Lake Organizing Committee?Sloc] will be using more energy-efficient systems, using buses powered by natural gas, planting trees at hot spots in the Salt Lake area, and offsetting the rest using unused emission credits donated by national and local businesses.?

Some winter sports areas in the U.S. have turned to snowmaking machines to make up the shortfall. Dr. Nancy Kete of WRI says, ?The machines are gluttons for water, a resource that may be in short supply in the next 25 years. Global warming?s impact on winter sports and the economies that depend on them give us a good opportunity to face the unimaginable.?

Adlai Amor of WRI says, ?We don’t know if the Turin games are safe, because we haven?t done those studies yet. But what?s clear is that there?s a question mark over anything held after 2006.?

For the WRI website,click here.

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