Warming Trends: Airports Underwater, David Pogue’s New Book and a Summer Olympic Bid by the Coldest Place in Finland

A column highlighting climate-related studies, innovations, books, cultural events and other developments from the global warming frontier.

The municipality of Salla in northern Finland created a fictional bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympics to bring attention to climate change. Photo Courtesy of the Save Salla campaign
The municipality of Salla in northern Finland created a fictional bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympics to bring attention to climate change. Photo Courtesy of the Save Salla campaign

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Warming Trends

The 2032 Summer Olympics in an Arctic Town in Finland? 

Salla, Finland, population 3,396, advertises itself as “in the middle of nowhere.” North of the Arctic Circle, it prides itself on being the coldest place in Finland, with winter temperatures in the minus double digits.

But Salla also cares about the climate crisis, and town officials, partnering with the youth climate organization Fridays for Future, have created a satiric video offering up the town as a perfect site for the 2032 summer Olympics.

In the video, a woman holding the Olympic torch runs through a frozen landscape shouting “The heat is coming,” and a man skis shirtless behind a reindeer weilding a flag saying “Salla 2032.” Athletes play beach volleyball in the snow, swim in a freezing lake and ride BMX bikes down an ice-slicked hill. 

The video is meant to be humorous, but it’s intention is more serious. The last two decades in Salla have been about 1.07 degrees Celsius warmer than the long-term average in the municipality, following the same trend seen across the Arctic, which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. 

“Our observations in Salla show that migratory birds arrive earlier than before, snow melts earlier than before, birch trees are starting to make leaves earlier than before,” said Tuukka Petäjä, a professor at the University of Helsinki. “There’s more and more pine trees growing in higher and higher altitudes above the treeline and they survive because of the warming environment.” 

The town’s parody of an Olympic bid is aimed at bringing attention to the climate crisis and imploring others to join the fight.

“We don’t want to be the best place to host the summer games in 2032,” Salla Mayor Erkki Parkkinen said. “We want to keep Salla and the whole planet as it is now. We want to raise attention to climate change and challenge everyone to do climate acts. We think if every person and company and state do what the climate needs, we can really make a difference. That’s our idea of this bid.”


Rising Seas, Floating Airports

At least 100 airports around the world could be submerged and 364 airports could be at risk of flooding if global warming exceeds the 2 degrees Celsius limit set by the Paris Agreement, a new study suggests.

The study, by researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, analyzed how sea level rise would affect more than 14,000 airports identified through the OpenFlights database. Coastal airports are vital to the global network of air travel, the study said, and by 2100, 10 to 20 percent of all air travel routes are likely to be at risk of disruption by flooding.

Today, 269 airports already are at risk of flooding, the study said.

“That’s actually a very small percentage of all the airports around the world, but they are disproportionately important,” said Professor Richard Dawson of Newcastle University’s School of Engineering, the study’s co-author. 

Airports will need to adapt to sea level rise by building flood walls or raising the runways and facilities, Dawson said. Some airports may even need to relocate or consider converting to a floating airport, although Dawson noted that was far from a mainstream option at this point. Although adaptations would be expensive, Dawson said, they could be rolled into routine refurbishments and remodeling. 

Airports in Pacific Island nations are among those at highest risk, with the most at stake. These airports may have only a few flights coming and going per week, but they are vital for sustaining the local population.

“It might be the only way medicine can get in or for ill patients to get out,” Dawson said. “So those airports are often very small and very infrequently used, but are kind of critical to enabling those island communities.”


A New Podcast Explores Inclusion and Justice

After Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while running last February, Kamilah Journét turned to her Instagram network to open up about her experiences as a Black runner. 

The running community—indeed, the outdoor industry as a whole—tends to be predominantly white, and Journét was the only Black woman on her team at the University of California, San Diego.

Now a climate justice advocate, Journét describes how running and activism have a lot in common in one episode of the new podcast “Dismantled,” which focuses on the environment and climate justice through the lens—and voices—of Black, Indigenous and other communities of color.

“Running is a sustained effort, training is something that takes time, you put in the mileage, some days are easier than others. You race, you might take a day or two to rest and find a bit of joy and then you start training again,” she said on the podcast. “It’s the same with activism, it’s not something you ever get to turn off once you’ve turned it on, there’s always more work to be done.”

The twice-monthly podcast is hosted by leaders from Intersectional Environmentalist, an organization born out of the racial justice movement that emerged after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor last year. 

Other questions explored in the show’s first few episodes: How did the work of Black women affect the 2020 election? How should corporations support the environmental movement? What is “intersectional environmentalism”?

Diandra Marizet, co-founder of Intersectional Environmentalist, said the show aims to elevate climate justice work taking place at the community level. 

“It’s such a cool way to grow and develop with each other as opposed to only listening to people with the most resources or people who find a way to be celebritized in a way,” Marizet said. “I hope it feels like a community podcast.”


David Pogue’s Tips for Surviving Climate Change

Countless books, documentaries, podcasts and more have focused on the need to prevent climate catastrophe. But a new book by David Pogue, a former tech columnist for The New York Times, is intended to help families and small businesses prepare for the rising global temperatures that are already beginning to affect the planet. 

How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos,” which came out this week, offers advice on everything from where to live and how to invest to how to survive climate disasters. 

“We should all keep [working to mitigate climate change] with every fiber of our being,” Pogue said. “But the other way to approach it is adaptation, which is coping with the changes that are here and here to stay.”

One of the tips Pogue offers is to invest in flood insurance; most homeowners who need such insurance don’t have it, he said. Another is to prepare for climate change-fueled disasters like wildfires and hurricanes, by arranging a meeting spot for family members, in case cell phone service goes out and it is impossible to return home. 

Pogue said he learned from experts he interviewed in his research that just having a plan in place can help reduce anxiety.

“Taking action over a situation that you can’t control is one of the few things that relieves depression and anxiety,” Pogue said. “So the act of taking steps, even if the disaster never comes, makes you sleep better at night, makes you feel like you’ve done what little you can to take control of the situation.”