Any sport that uses fuel is going to be costly to the environment. Motor racing, 4 x 4 off road driving and indoor motor events use large events of energy and pump massive amounts of carbon monoxide into the environment. At a recent indoor tractor pulling competition, levels of the lethal gas were monitored. During the event, which had an indoor capacity for 16,000 people, levels of carbon monoxide increased by a factor of six.
Many organisers of sporting events now declare their events as carbon-neutral, implying that the equivalent of carbon released by sporting activities is offset through tree planting, investing in renewable energy sources or proactively reducing waste and increasing recycling.
The last World Cup made environmental history through its efforts to reduce emissions. Match tickets incorporated day travel passes on the public transport network; journalists were given free travel on buses and trains; the stadium in Berlin can now boast that it has the largest rain-water collection system in Europe; and for the first time at a sporting event, reusable drink containers were provided. The organisers offset 30,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide by investing in national environmental projects.
One of the Worlds largest annual events, the Super Bowl, is committing to being a carbon-neutral event in the future. One of their main aims is to offset emissions from the 3000 vehicles that are involved in transporting teams and officials around the country. The organisers have committed to plant over 30000 acres of tress in Arizona.
Many environmental success stories are emerging from the sporting world. One of the biggest drivers, ironically, is the effect of climate change itself. Ski resorts in many parts of the world are reporting that a change in climatic conditions is threatening their business. In a dramatic move to help sustain their business, Vail Ski Resorts in the US have gone 100% renewable energy. They are now the second largest user of wind power in the US. They say that cutting back on the level of carbon dioxide produced by the resort will be equivalent to taking 18,000 cars off the road.
Green Ski Resorts
Ski resorts are often criticised for damaging the environment. Cutting down trees to make way for new runs, snowmaking machines that turn water into piste, not to mention the massive amount of cars and buses that use the approach roads. It is not surprising that these resorts are embracing their environmental responsibilities, which they seem to be doing very well. One major resort has offered users a free day-pass in exchange for signing up for a renewable energy scheme.
Some European ski resorts have banned heliski drops because they thought the constant stream of helicopters produced significant noise pollution. Having said that, there are numerous reports of ski resorts actually using helicopters to move snow around – usually from higher levels to lower areas of the resort! This practice is outlawed in some countries because of the fuel use and also because of environmental noise.
A very contentious issue about winter sports resorts is the fact that they only operate during the winter. However, many resorts are now looking for innovative ways of turning their facilities into year-round use.
In Scotland, a resort has installed plastic matting down one of its main runs. Little plastic buggies, called deval karts, are pulled up the hill by a chairlift and at the top riders hop into the kart for a freefall down the plastic slope. The thrilling ride is independent of power and is completely sustainable. In addition to the karts, this centre has installed tube rides. You hop into a rubber tube and enjoy a freefall run down a prepared track. Not only is this an innovative use of an area that would otherwise be redundant during eight months of the year, the centre provides year-round employment for the local community.
There are many sports centres around the world that are now considering the environment in a positive manner. Many of these are being forced into sustainability, which they are grasping with innovation and enthusiasm. Whether you chose to visit an international football match or participate in some thrilling downhill skiing, the most important thing is to check with the operators to see if they have an environmental policy that aims for carbon-neutrality. If so, great enjoyment can be found at most sporting events.