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Pro Athletes to Testify About Effects of Climate Change on Sports

September 4, 2019, 10:01 AM HST
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US Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Chair of the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, will convene a hearing titled “The Fight to Save Winter: Pro Athletes for Climate Action” on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, at 5:30 a.m. HST.

The special committee, which is affiliated with the DPCC, will hear from professional athletes and learn how climate change impacts popular winter sports and outdoor recreation, in turn threatening jobs and harming the tourism industry.

“Climate change hurts our communities, our industries, and even our way of life. No one is spared,” said Chairman Schatz. “I look forward to hearing from professional athletes from across the country who are feeling the impacts of climate change and are ready to take action.”

Snow sports tourism, which contributes $20 billion annually to the US economy, will have to contend with shorter seasons and reduced snow cover. The industry is already feeling the impacts: the Fourth National Climate Assessment found, “Increasing air temperatures have substantially reduced the fraction of winter precipitation falling as snow, particularly over the western United States,” and recent research suggests the U.S. snow season has shortened by 34 days since the 1980s.

Roughly 20 million people participate in downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling in the United States annually. Climate change will reduce participation in those sports and thereby threaten the roughly 190,000 jobs and $7 billion in wages generated by the winter tourism industry.

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In addition to Schatz, members of the committee include US Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

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Witnesses:

  • Mike Richter, President of Brightcore Energy; Hall of Fame goaltender for the New York Rangers
  • Jeremy Jones, Founder of Protect Our Winters; professional snowboarder
  • Caroline Gleich, Professional ski mountaineer and adventurer
  • Tommy Caldwell, Professional climber

The hearing is open to the public. Enter through the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center and check in at one of the Senate Appointment Desks.

Witness testimony and a live video of the hearing will be available online.

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