Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 13, 2021 by Noreen Wise, climate journalist
America’s passion for professional sports, particularly baseball, is under severe threat from climate change. With our favorite pastime now in peril, it becomes a powerful wake up call that should motivate us into quick action.
The intense heat during summer months is impacting both the enjoyment and health of fans and players alike. More must be done as quickly as possible. There were hundreds of deaths during the sweltering heat that gripped the country last month. UCLA Professor R. Jisung Park noted during his recent testimony at a hearing on environmental justice in front of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, that “heat hurts.” Park provided data outlining the grave health risks for those working outdoors in the intense heat. Although his testimony pertained to data collected in EJ communities, the same health threat also applies to anyone working outdoors, including athletes. Park warned that “heat increases injuries above 90 degrees Fahrenheit by 15 percent.” Park pointed out that those in their twenties and thirties are more likely to be injured than those in their forties and fifties.
According to AccuWeather, Dylan Bundy, starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, threw up at the pitcher mound at the bottom of the second in a game against the New York Yankees played in New York last month. Bundy was walked off the field by a trainer in the record heat. The temperature reached 92 degrees that day with a RealFeel of 100 degrees.
- High temperatures have resulted in several teams reinventing their stadiums. The Miami Marlins, Houston Astrosas well as four others are now equipped with air-conditioned stadiums with retractable roofs to ensure the well being of all in attendance.
- Other teams adapt by changing their playing schedule, going to bat at midnight. This might be enjoyable on a summer Saturday night, but would be a nightmare during the week.
- Wrigley Field in Chicago was dangerously hot this past July, with the heat index temperature reaching 107 degrees. The stadium set up cooling stations and offered fans free ice backs. Coaches were on a mission to keep the players hydrated. This required a significant amount of work and was clearly a borderline health risk. Hopefully, the powers that be are taking notes and finding a better solution for the future. This wasn’t a one-off but is rather a dire climate emergency that will escalate.
- In October 2018, not a single American sports stadium made the top 5 sustainable stadiums in the world ranking. (1) Amersterdam Arena, Netherlends (2) National Stadium, Taiwan (3) Mineral Stadium, Brazil (4) Fisht Stadium, Russia (5) Khalifa International Stadium, Qatar.
- However, the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta has deemed itself the “‘most sustainable sports venue in the world.'”
- 4,000 solar panel
- 2 millions gallons of stormwater capture
- Water conservation
- The first “Zero Waste Super Bowl” was held in 2019 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota. The mission was to maximize recycling. The success rate reached 90%.
- Recycling at America’s massive sports complexes must become a VERY big deal if we are to lower the carbon needle. It’s much more simple than most realize. There are now regional composting services that will assist with this. According to the Sloan Blog, Patrick Boyle, the Sloan Director of Corporate Sustainability, lowering waste at stadiums is a matter of limiting choices so that all refreshments are served using compostable plates and cups. This enables all waste to be thrown away in the same bin and picked up by one truck.
Some sustainability focused stadiums are taking climate action one step further and getting players involved in educating fans on the importance of recycling and sustainability. The Sloan Blog notes that stars are assuring the public that “Ordinary people can make a difference.”