Vice uses Olympics to push dramatically wrong climate change article

February 11, 2022

By Tim Worstall

Vice tells us that climate change is getting so bad that by 2100 only one city will be able to host the Winter Olympics. The reality is that Vice’s journalism is getting so bad that it can’t even check its own sources. Vice: “One recent study found that by 2100, only one city in the entire world may be able to host the Winter Games (Sapporo, Japan). “

No, really, just no. They link to a source:

“A new study has found that the number of cities capable of hosting the Winter Olympics could be reduced to just one by the end of the 21st century if global emissions of greenhouse gases are not dramatically reduced. This comes as the current Winter Olympics being held in Beijing makes history as the first Winter Olympics ever held with almost 100 percent artificial snow.”

The study, published in Current Issues in Tourism, looked at climate data from the 1920s until today, as well as future climate change models for later in this century, including where emissions goals are hit and missed.

That actual paper in Current Issues in Tourism is here. The argument, the statement, being that of the places that have held Winter Olympics before, if climate change is worse than anyone even vaguely believes it might be, then only one of those places which have done it before can do it again.

“Only one city which has had a Winter Olympic Games can do so again” is different from “Only one city in the world can have a Winter Olympic Games.”

Think on it for a moment, as the varied journalists here have not. There are cities within the Arctic Circle, Norilsk, for example, in Russia. Places just outside, Murmansk, parts of Alaska and so on. No one should be able to believe that such places would not be able to have a Winter Olympics. We don’t have them there now because everyone would freeze to death. Climate change might well mean that cities a hundred or more miles north of the ones we’ve used before do the hosting. Or ones further up the mountain.

But only one city in the whole world will be able to do so? That’s journalists not bothering to read their source material, check their references. It’s always amazing that when they don’t the answer turns out that climate change is not just worse than we thought it would be but that it’s worse than it’s going to be, isn’t it?

Vice is a major media outlet these days. The TV channel reaches 60 million American households, the website gets 30 million visits a month and the magazine has a 900,000 copy distribution. This isn’t some blog, it’s a major part of the modern media.

We’d also point out a more technical mistake they make, that plant behind the Big Air jump on the pictures from Beijing is an old steel plant. About which they say “ Overall, steel represents about 8 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and nobody has figured out a good, cost-effective way to lower that output in the future.” Something which is doubly nonsense.

The United States knows how to make steel without carbon emissions because it does so for 70% of the steel that is made in the US. Make it out of scrap that is, as that majority of US steel is. The double is that it’s possible to go further and use direct reduction – DRI – and make new steel, from ore, without carbon emissions too. There are furnaces in Sweden turning it out right now. Sure, it’s a new technology, it’ll take decades to become widespread and commonplace. But that work has already been done to do the working out.

Don’t these people ever actually check their pieces? One of the problems with modern journalism being that no, apparently, they don’t.


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