|The Green Games|
|Written by alice freda|
|Tuesday, 24 July 2012 14:34|
The "Games of the XXX Olympiad" (that stands for the 30th summer Olympics) begin tomorrow in London.
The origins of the Olympics may date back to Ancient Greece but the modern Olympics, or the games as we know them now, were created by Baron Pierre de Coubertin who founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894. And though the games are no longer just a test of mettle between amateur athletes, the spirit of the Olympics lives on in the peaceful competition between athletes representing 205 countries and participating in over 300 events.
These 2012 games are projected to be the largest (over 13,000 athletes) and most expensive ($13 billion - *not including the city's investments in infrastructure upgrades or private investment) Olympics to date. So when London committed to hosting the "greenest" Olympic games ever, critics voiced a bit of skepticism over its potential greenwashing claims.
It's true, hosting an event that brings in hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world will undoubtedly result in excess carbon emissions and waste. But the London 2012 Games have adhered to an especially strict set of sustainability goals throughout its development. The actual site of the Olympic Park is a five-hundred acre development (more than half the size of Central Park) on a former industrial brownfield in East London that has since been transformed and restored into rolling greenspace, parkland, and wildlife habitat. An impressive 90% of construction waste was reused or recycled, rather than sent to landfills. And while a proposed wind turbine in the Olympic village was scrapped, EDF (one of Europe's largest energy companies) is providing carbon-free electricity to all the facilities in the Olympic park including the sports infrastructures as well as the Olympic village: an on-site biomass generator will provide further carbon free electricity for the games site. Waste will also be minimized, as all concessions sold at Olympic venues will be in biodegradable or recyclable packaging.
Perhaps most interestingly in notoriously traffic-clogged London, there were no parking lots built at the Olympic games site in a calculated move to encourage spectators to take public transit or self-propelled (read bike, foot, or gondola) means to the venues.
And while London's "green Olympics" claim may be debated, another global competition pitting country vs. country was just released by Yale University and Columbia University--the Environmental Performance Index (EPI)--which ranks countries by their environmental performance. Switzerland, Latvia, Norway, and Luxembourg took gold in the global rankings, while The United Kingdom ranked an impressive 9th. Japan took 23rd place, Brazil 30th, and the United States an uninspiring 49th. China placed at 116th and India came in 125th, while Iraq placed last in the rankings at 132nd.
What a world we'd live in if countries put as much effort, time, money, and national patriotism in trying to top the EPI list as the medals podium in London.
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