Waiting for a snow day


As the Winter Olympics draw near, Canadians and the world have focused their gaze on Vancouver. After Beijing beat Toronto in a bid for the summer games in 2008, Canada saw the 2010 Olympics as our chance to show the world what were made of and to give the worlds best athletes a taste of our wonderful, snowy weather.

The problem is, wheres the snow?

Vancouver, in the grip of an El-Niño event, is presently experiencing balmy, mild weather. While this would be perfect any other winter, the approach of the Olympics makes it a headache for administrators. The mountains nearby the city have little to no buildup, which spells problems for the ski and snowboard events meant to take place there.

Presently, Vancouvers plan to save the Olympics in the wake of high temperatures, little precipitation and the little time left—a month—before the opening ceremonies, is to move snow from higher altitudes by land or air. If snow is almost completely lacking, plans are underway to build straw and wood courses, and to coat them with what they can find.

While the events at Vancouver are not due to climate change, at least no more so than usual, the citys reaction to it hints of something larger, something uplifting about our response to environmental problems beyond the control of an individual or even a nation: we can handle it.

Since the 1970s and continuing into the 2010s with books such as Al Gores Our Choice and Stewart Brands Whole Earth Discipline, the popular idea about environmental problems has changed from an expectation of far-off governments and scientists to solve a far-off problem to an expectation that the individual matters. Climate and weather problems are engineering problems now, and engineering problems can be solved.

Whether it be Stewart Brands advice to keep bees, live in the city and endorse nuclear power, or protesters in Copenhagen trying their hardest to reach out to Stephen Harper and his oil sands constituents, the pervading attitude is that change is possible. If a dump truck full of snow is what it takes to do that, then so be it. Hopefully, solving these problems really is a possibility, and the expectation that we can do it is real, unlike the slalom courses on this years winter games.