Sunday, February 28, 2010

How Vancouver won the green medal

The Vancouver Winter Games have come to a close, and the Canadians did indeed "own the podium", just as they set out to do. Good for them.

The 2010 Games have been billed as a great success, probably the most-watched winter event in history (though die-hard Olympic skeptic Dave Zirin obligingly challenges the merits of this particular edition).

VANOC has also declared this to have been the "greenest Olympics ever", and they're probably right, even though I can't imagine the 1896 Games belched nearly as much carbon into the air as any modern iteration. Regardless, the notion of green Games doesn't really mean much these days.

Still, there were valiant efforts to reduce the Olympic footprint. The odd-looking, wavy medals are probably the best example -- they're comprised of gold from recycled e-waste, an innovative use of one of our most daunting environmental scourges. Have a look (via Motherboard.TV):

Whatever the level of green-ness at the Vancouver Games, you can be sure it will trump the next Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, where environmental degradation is already running rampant -- only one of many problems facing Sochi.

And speaking of e-waste and Vancouver, here's something from the J-school students at my alma mater, UBC, that is quite old but always worth knowing about. It's a Frontline investigation into what happens to the e-waste from North America after it leaves the continent (it goes to impoverished areas of Africa and Asia) as well as the potential national security questions the practice of exporting e-waste raises (not to mention environmental and human security). Watch the video here.

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