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Ice Matters

Winter Olympics 2010, The Green Games

Up in Canada where ice is integral to lifestyle and where, during these 2010 Winter Olympics, it’s all about ice – ice hockey, ice skating, curling, luge, skeleton, skiing, bobsleigh … ice…ice…snow and more ice…Ice really matters.

But there’s a whole other reason why ice matters and matters in a big way. And that’s because ice is melting.

James Balog, Artist, Scientist, Explorer and Adventurer has produced his Extreme Ice Survey, a compelling time-lapse photographic presentation depicting the world’s ice melting at a speed heretofore unimagined. Balog is Olympic 2010 sponsor, Samsung Corporation’s, Eco-Ambassador.

James Balog Presents Extreme Ice Survey at Samsung Rendezvous to Vancouver School Children, Winter Games 2010

On February 16th, Canada’s Federal Government Minister of Environment, Jim Prentice [Twitter @JimPrentice] announced that they would offset the estimated 7,600 tons of GHG emissions created by the thousands of government employees participating/volunteering in the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter games.

“Canada is proud to be the first host country in history to help offset the greenhouse gas emissions of its Olympic Games,” said Minister Prentice. “This commitment is one of many ways our Government is contributing to sustainable Games and meeting our global climate change responsibilities.”

And while we all know, somewhere in our brains, that these numbers are significant and meaningful, it’s the visuals that really sink in.

And here’s where James Balog, a world-renowned nature photographer, can communicate the urgent nature of the state of our affairs so graphically. With his Extreme Ice Survey.

“Ice is the canary in the coal mine,” said Balog in his TED Global talk delivered in Oxford, England a few months ago.  More recently at Vancouver’s Live City he explained, “We are able to communicate the reality of Climate Change through our Extreme Ice Survey (.org) time-lapse photography essays.”

“We are encouraging government leaders to allow us to bring out the story of what the cameras are seeing,” noted Balog.

Balog has shown his Extreme Ice Survey to audiences as varied as sophisticated scientific minds at NASA to academics at Oxford to…kids from Vancouver’s Mackenzie Elementary School (pictured above in their February 23rd Eco Classroom led by Balog).

“When people see my photography of landscapes melting, they understand it immediately. From the time you are one-years-old, everyone understands melting ice. From the moment you feel an ice cube melt on your tongue, you understand the concept that warmth melts ice,” explains Balog.

Why does the melting of glaciers matter? Because they offer a tangible, visible manifestation of a dramatic change in climate that’s underway.

It’s a worldwide change; Glaciers are the visible manifestation.

Photographic documentation also provided undeniable evidence for these claims. Evidence that flies in the face of the Climate Deniers.

“Climate Gate was a ridiculously absurd and overblown event. It was a campaign of confusion and misinformation. The Climate Change deniers stepped up their game right before the Copenhagen Conference,” said Balog.

“Scientists are not wild-eyed radicals. They are everything but. History is going to judge the Climate Deniers as irresponsible, criminal even.”

“There are people who say that Obama is selling off the future of the U.S. with his big spending campaign. Climate Change Deniers are selling off the the future of our Earth’s resources,” says Balog. “You can liken the campaign of today’s Climate Change Deniers with the cigarette companies of a couple decades ago. The more the status quo makes money in their status quo industries, the more they want to preserve the status quo.”

Even giants such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates has gotten on board with the cause of climate change. At lat week’s TED conference in Long Beach, California, he said that climate change is the world’s “most vexing problem,” and expounded on the need to find a cheap and clean energy source, saying it is even more important than creating new vaccines and improving farming techniques.

For artist-adventurer James Balog, with the backing of a global electronics leader such as Samsung, he now has the means to spread his message wide and far.  His EIS has already been the subject of  a Nova/PBS TV special and a new book, Extreme Ice Now.

Balog on Photography:

We’ve been finding that visuals presented properly can captivate people in a way that the qualitative cannot. Visuals makes it real.

Eyes are the primary organ of human perception.

Numbers are an abstraction. Numbers must be processed by the brain and then interpreted. Only a small percentage of the population really speak the language of numbers easily.

Everyone gets the eye/visual thing.

Balog says that  British Columbia is one of the world’s regions on the front lines of climate change.  A private foundation recently funded a reconaissance aerial tour to observe the area between between Mt. Garibaldi and Mt. Waddington.  He admitted that he was “stunned” to discover the amount of glacial retreat there was.  He said he had never seen such dramatic change in landscape. “I have seen a lot of changing mountains but I have not seen such a change like this,” said Balog.

With his Extreme Ice Survey organization, James Balog monitors other key areas of the globe:  “We have time-lapse cameras posted in the Andes, Alps, Iceland,Greenland, N. Rockies U.S., and Alaska.”

Canada’s Minister of Environment Prentice said, “In addition to promoting sustainability at the Games, these innovative approaches will also showcase Canadian environmental technology and ingenuity to the world.”

More of VANOC’s [Vancouver Olympic Committee] and Canada’s Olympic environmental initiatives:

  • Environmental assessments of Olymipic venue sites to reduce the ecological footprint of the Games;
  • The Canada Line representing 19 kilometers rail transit system that links downtown Vancouver with central Richmond and the Vancouver International Airport funded under the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Program;
  • The BC Hydrogen Highway project showcasing hydrogen and fuel-cell technology including fuel-cell vehicles and fuelling stations, and;
  • The wave roof of the Richmond Oval made from recycled wood from trees destroyed by pine beetles.

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Canada Owns The – Gold – Podium

Alexandre Bilodeau, Canada’s Olympic Gold Medalist, First to Win Gold on Home Soil, Ever

Marking Olympic History, Alexandre Bilodeau is the first Canadian in history to win Olympic Gold on Canada’s home soil.

“It will be a special moment tonite,” says the Olympic Gold Medalist at a COC press conference today, referring to the Medal ceremonies. “Obviously I have goosebumps inside to touch an Olympic Gold Medal. I looked at Jenn’s [Heil] medal  but I didn’t touch it.”

The humble and self-reflective Bilodeau credits his older brother, who suffers from cerebral palsy, with inspiring him. He says his brother wakes up with a big smile and goes to bed with a big smile. “Whenever I feel like complaining I just shut up and get on with it. My brother is such an example of perserverence and happiness,” said Bilodeau. That perserverence has paid off…now the young 23 year old has won Olympic Gold for Canada, on home soil, in downhill Mogul skiing. “This medal is for my brother,” said Bilodeau.

Alexandre Bilodeau, Canada’s Olympic Gold Medalist

“The first Olympic Gold Medal for Canada is not worth more than the second or the third…”

In conjunction with the Canada Olympic Committee’s Own The Podium program, a group of Canadian businessmen got together after Salt Lake City and formed B2Ten.  This B2Ten project is one of  private business mentoring and supporting a select group of elite athletes with the goal of winning Olympic and other world-class sports feats and medals.

B2ten supports athletes by providing access to training resources, support services and technology that  meet the specific needs of each athlete.

Since it’s inception in 2005, B2ten-supported athletes have delivered a long-list of World Cup, World Championship and Olympic medals for Canada.

Bilodeau is quick to acknowledge the incredible support as an athlete he has received from both the B2Ten and Own The Podium programs, working in conjunction with the COC. Support came in the form of extra physio, massage, training, mentoring, and even bio-mechanic expertise.  And the business leaders who fund the B2Ten ask for nothing in return – no logos displayed on the athlete’s uniforms, no formal or public recognition. They just ask that the athletes do their best. “I’ve been having cocktails with the biggest business leaders in Canada; people who themselves have thousands of people who work for them, who they are responsible for.” He says this helped him prepare for the pressure of competing in the Olympics on behalf of his country. “I thought of that in preparing for my run down the mountain.”  A run that won Bilodeau, and Canada, the first-ever Olympic Gold Medal on home ground.

Tonight, at B.C. Place when he is awarded his medal, he will be standing on a wooden podium harvested through sustainable forest management. The Province of British Columbia is a leader, worldwide, in sustainable forest management.  Each podium was assembled from more than 200 pieces and built from one of 18 different wood types donated by communities from all over the Province, including companies, individuals and First Nations. Twenty-three podiums will be at 11 venues.  There will be nightly ceremonies at B.C. Place to award the victors their Olympic Medals.

“It’s just the beginning of a big party for me right now,” acknowledges Bilodeau, who admitted to getting a whole 3 hours of sleep in the 24 hours following his historic run.  Even Premier Campbell was on hand to congratulate the Olympian.  “All of us in Vancouver were up until 3 a.m. celebrating with you,” rasped the Premier of B.C. whose voice had gone slightly hoarse over the celebrations. “You make us all proud. And give my best to your brother.”

Peter Judge of the COC remarked that, “I’ve seen many extraordinary accomplishments but what I saw last night will live in my memory forever.” Judge has been a strong advocate of both the Own The Podium and B2Ten programs for the Canadian athletes. He pointed out that the technical expertise lent to the teams resulted in the downhiill mogul skiing, as a sport, being measured also by optical timers, a refinement that has had impactful results on the sport.

Today, February 15th, also marked B.C. Clean Energy Day.  Premier Campbell and Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Blair Lekstrom, resident of Dawson’s Creek, were on hand to announce several clean energy programs for the Province today. British Columbia operates on 90% renewable energy.

British Columbia the world’s largest exporter of softwood lumber, paper and bio-energy products that help mitigate climate change and provide innovative solutions to green building and energy needs.

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Olympic Sport 2010 – Bobwheeling – For The Warmer Winters

by Green Blogger

At today’s unveiling of Olympic Rendezvous at Samsung (OR@S) Gerhard Heiberg of the International Olympic Committee stated with full confidence, “We chose the right place,” when referring to Vancouver, B.C., in which to hold the Winter Games. Except maybe, for the weather, he quietly added. Ironically, the unusually mild 2010 winter that the city is experiencing gives the greenies a great backdrop to drill down on the point of global warming.

“We were on Cloud 9 when we were awarded the games back in 2003,” stated Premier Campbell at the Samsung WOW Rendezvous launch, attended by Super Athlete, Wayne Gretzky. Amazingly, as recent as 2003 there was still debate about the “real” or “imagined” existence of global warming.

Enter The Offsetters: Offsetting the Winter Games one ton at a time.

So while headlines point to the trucking in of snow for the Winter Games, these kids from Kelowna, Canada dreamed up a new Olympic sport for our ever-evolving Earth.  Of course, they did so tongue-in-cheek and in conjunction with OffSetters, a carbon offsetting company founded by two University of British Columbia professors. Offsetters is encouraging every Olympic attendee and guest to do their part in offsetting their impact on the globe during the games.Calculate your Impact Here.

The 2010 Winter Games’ footprint will be an estimated 118,000 tonnes of direct carbon emissions – all emissions that are directly attributable to the 2010 Winter Games like venue construction, facility heating, and athlete travel. Additionally, this event will produce 150,000 tonnes of ‘indirect’ emissions – emissions that are largely attributable to flights and accommodation for spectators, media, corporate sponsors and their partners.

Bobwheeling: The Newest Olympic Sport

Can’t See The Video?  CLICK HERE for BOBWHEELING

As humorous as this is, the concern is real. Snow is being trucked in, flown in, bussed in to Cypress Mountain. Come Friday the Winter Olympic’s first event, women’s moguls, will need snow.  Below, VANOC CEO, John Furlong, is escorted off the tarmac in downtown Vancouver after a look-see flyover the Sea to Sky route which is the Whistler to Vancouver road. At Samsung’s Rendezvous Furlong said, “When the torch arrives here tomorrow evening, life as we know it will change.  More than anything we here in Vancouver want to leave behind the positive legacy that the power of sports can change lives.” Let the snow, er, games begin.

From NY POST:


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Olympics 2010 – Premier Campbell Swoops In To Take Green

Looking something akin to an Olympian Superhero, Premier Gordon Campbell kicked off this pre-Olympic Weekend by flying over Robson Square, not quite in a cape but certainly the next best thing…on the zip line at Robson Square.

“The harness was quite comfortable,” he said afterwards.He and Olympian Charmaine Crooks were the first to ride the Zip Line and launched what will be free rides offered starting Feb. 12th, the first official day of the Winter Games.  The ride speeds revellers off a four-storey-high tower and along a 170 meter wire.

[premier-gordon-campbell-rides-robson-zipline-06.jpg]

Photo Courtesy VanCityBuzz

“That was great. I was trying to do a somersault backwards and I didn’t quite make it,” yelled the super-fly Premier Campbell to reporters watching below. “This is going to be a fun place for people to come,” he said. “I want everyone to know it’s there for them, it’s free for them, it’s their Olympics, so come down and have a good time.”

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Campbell was out and about promoting all things green that VANOC (Vancouver Olympic Committee) and the Province of B.C. has done to make these games green.

FACT: The 2010 Winter Games will produce only about a tenth of the carbon dioxide emissions generated by previous Winter Games. The games will be run primarily on clean renewable hydro electricity provided by BC Hydro.  For a complete rundown on how the timing devices and broadcasters et al will be powered by Clean Energy go to the Power Smart Village site.

The 2010 Winter Games will produce the lowest carbon dioxide emissions from power generation in the history of the modern Games, at only about a tenth of previous Winter Games.

https://i0.wp.com/www.gordoncampbellmla.bc.ca/media/resampled_PGC_Miga_Feb08_560.jpg

Club Energy is one of the Fun things offered at the Power Smart Village.  The dance floor actually lights up as you dance, powered by your energy. And it’s sustainable.  No bouncers, no cover charge.  They challenge you to prove you really can “Light up a room!”

For Sustaianability and the Winter Games, the Power Smart Village is Renewable Energy Central for the 2010 Winter Games. It thrives on people power. It’s a free, interactive gathering place in downtown Vancouver. It promises to “deliver fun and insight into living greener in B.C.” And, well, why not the World!

On February 10th, they’re hosting a So You Think You Can Dance session at 3pm and 6pm.

Contestants will have the choice between two to three songs to perform their best dance moves, concentrating both on creativity and movement. Judging will be based on number of steps taken within the allotted time, as well as audience preference.

More Things to do at Power Smart Village: Tour an energy-efficient Home of the Future, or join the cheering as Games events are broadcast live on a 65-inch energy-efficient TV. Get creative with their digital Expression Wall. Create electricity – literally – on their sustainable dance floor.

AT 333 Dunsmuir Street, Downtown Vancouver

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