A new interview series on climate change in sports

Text on image: New interview series. The effects of climate change in sports. The background is tan and black with a profile picture of Marjolein Thickett out on a run.

The effects of climate change in sports

I’ve already told some of you on LinkedIn that I’m setting up an interview series about the effects of climate change in sports, and I’ve asked for your recommendations (which have been great by the way!), so it’s time for me to tell you why I’ve decided to focus on this topic.

Let’s talk about how sports are being affected by climate change.

As you know, my work focuses on sports and sustainability, and also latterly Carbon Literacy Training for the Sports Sector. Through talking to attendees of these training sessions, it got me thinking about the fact that much of the climate impact we hear about frequently seems to be abroad.

While we in the UK have mostly been spared the worst weather effects, comparatively little of what’s happening here makes it into the news. It’s an uncomfortable topic and for a wide variety of reasons, minimal light is being shed on the effects that we’re already seeing. This is a crying shame bearing in mind that being aware of the consequences frequently helps drive change. It remains a fact of life that if you don’t want to engage with the climate emergency, you can almost entirely avoid it.

For this reason, I wanted to talk to people close to me. To find out how the changing climate is affecting their sport, their daily lives, their training sessions, their races, and the events they attend as fans.

Who am I going to interview?

I’m going to be speaking to a wide range of people, each from a different sport. Hopefully there’s someone in there that each of us can identify with. Whether that’s because they’re talking about your favourite pastime, because they’re a dedicated fan, or because they have a similar training schedule to yours. The people I’m interviewing include those working in regional sports organisations, both professional & recreational athletes, and dedicated sports fans.

I hope to explore all the ways we’re already seeing climate change affect the sports we love, and to pull these experiences together in one place. I want to capture people’s experiences of climate change in sports first-hand, and to find out if some sports are feeling the effects quicker than others. Of course, we already know that certain locations are feeling the effects far more harshly than others, so how are these areas dealing with this?

What are the questions I’m going to be asking?

In this series about the effects of climate change on sports, you can expect to see questions like:

  • In what ways have you seen the climate emergency affect your sport, both on a local and global scale?
  • Can you share any specific examples of events or seasons that have been impacted by extreme weather or environmental changes?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges you see in integrating sustainability into sports and how can they be overcome?
  • Do you believe the sports industry has a unique role to play in addressing climate change?
  • What are the cobenefits you envisage in your sport if we focused more on sustainability in this field?

How has my own life been affected by the changes in the climate?

I’ve already seen significant changes within the realms of our own sports activities as a family. My son’s football matches and training sessions are forever being cancelled due to poor weather.  (Multiple parents grumble about this, but then fail to make the connection between “It wasn’t like this in my day!” and the fact that this is the changing climate in action.)

My outdoor swimming season has been impacted by lower-than-usual water temperatures one month, then blue green algae blooms of increasing intensity the following month. Local running events have felt the effects of recent storms such as Storm Desmond, with record numbers of trees down, plus severe flooding. The list goes on.

A few articles/updates relevant to sports and the climate emergency

I hope this has given you a taster of what’s to come. In the meantime, I’ve pulled together a few resources I find useful. The list isn’t exhaustive by any means, but I’ve started compiling a separate list of the best resources so that I can share these with any interested parties and carbon literacy trainees. Please do let me know if you use any resources that are particularly useful.

I can’t wait to share the first interviews with you so stay tuned and please let me know of anyone you think would be a good fit for this interview series. You’d make me as happy as Adam getting caught in the rain at Bassenthwaite last year!

Adam Thickett laughing his head off at being in torrential rain in the middle of a lake with our 3-year-old daughter onboard under an umbrella.

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