Outdoor hockey threatened by global warming
MONTREAL (CP) - Many Canadians go to their local outdoor hockey rink to skate and live the dream of scoring that winning Stanley Cup goal.
But this quintessential slice of Canadian life in wintertime is slowly melting away because of global warming, says a collection of young environmentalists.
"A bunch of us are fairly avid hockey fans and hockey players and we noticed that we were waiting longer and longer every year to play, and then we started phoning rink operators and were told the same story," said Mike Hudema of Global Exchange.
"It's not only that the season is getting shorter but it's also the (fewer) number of the cold days in a row. Suddenly you get a real warm spell where your entire rink will melt, and so getting a nice clean surface is really hard."
Hudema, a 28-year-old from Edmonton, Alta., said the campaign, launched over the weekend, has been joined by about a dozen environmental groups, including the heavy-hitting World Wildlife Fund.
Hudema said volunteers "frustrated with having to play hockey games on slush" have already started to hand out postcards at NHL games across the country urging people to pressure Ottawa to take action.
They are also organizing a series of protest outdoor hockey games. One game scheduled for Whitehorse was cancelled last week because of warm weather.
They also plan to stage a mock funeral for shinny hockey outside the Montreal conference on climate change that opens on Monday.
Hudema said his hockey campaign needs science to back up anecdotal evidence that Canadians are enjoying fewer days of outdoor hockey each winter.
He said researchers at the University of Calgary and the University of Waterloo are crunching the numbers and will present results next year.
The ski industry has been wresting with the issue of climate change for years.
In 2003, a United Nations Environment Program report said that many of the continent's lower altitude ski resorts faced hard times or even ruin because of rising temperatures.
In the Swiss alps, the ski season is nearly two weeks shorter than it was two decades ago.
"The science is definitely there for other winter sports, but it's not there for hockey yet," Hudema said.
An environmental think-tank, the World Resources Institute, warned in 2002 that the future of Winter Olympic Games was under threat because of global warming.
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