Researchers have recently discovered that climate change will severely limit our choice of host cities for the Summer Olympics within this very century.
According to a new study conducted at the University of California, Berkeley and published in The Lancet, by the year 2085, the number of cities across the entire world that would be fit to host the games is just 33. And if that number somehow seems high enough for comfort, note that if climate change weren’t a concern, the number of cities suitable for the summer event would be about 1,000.
Furthermore, if you eliminate the cluster of small cities in northwestern Europe, the number of viable cities drops to just eight. And as for America alone, the number drops to one single city: San Francisco. See which other cities would make the cut in the map below:
In order to arrive at these figures, researchers had to use some pretty sophisticated temperature calculation known as the wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT). WGBT incorporates humidity, wind, and radiation levels — all of which can have a tremendous and ruinous effect on athletes.
Once the WBGT reaches about 79 degrees Fahrenheit, athletes begin to enter the danger zone and the host city hits about a ten percent chance of having to cancel a major outdoor event, and thus lose enormous amounts of money.
Thus researchers projected the WGBT for all cities worldwide with over 600,000 people (the requisite historical minimum for a host city), and found that to avoid these perils in the 2084 or 2088 Summer Games, only the tiny fraction of the world’s cities listed above will fit the bill.
And when the researchers projected out to the next century, the results grew ever more grim. By then, just four cities in the entire world — Dublin, Ireland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Glasgow, Scotland; and Edinburgh, Scotland — could host the games.