Those who’ve lived here long enough might remember that San Francisco really, desperately wanted to host the 2016 Olympics.
In 2005, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom put forth a bid that would have included the entire Bay Area participating in the mega-sporting event in some capacity. A year later, after the city and 49ers couldn’t figure out how to build a new stadium in San Francisco, the bid was withdrawn and the dream died.
Fast-forward 10 years, and the Olympics are in Brazil — and San Francisco has another failed hosting attempt under its belt, having lost to Los Angeles last year as the U.S. bid city for the 2024 Games. But hey, there’s some good (if frightening) news to report: Come 2088, San Francisco might be the last city in the entire United States that has a climate suitable for the Summer Olympics.
The Lancet, a science journal, published a paper last week arguing that climate change will eventually reach a threshold in which nearly the entire northern hemisphere will be too hot in summer months for athletes to reasonably compete outdoors. Using the body-straining marathon as a barometer, with a high-risk temperature of 82 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit, researchers found that only three cities in North America would be suitable to host the Summer Olympics at that point: Calgary and Vancouver in Canada, and good-old-foggy-as-all-hell San Francisco.
The study used the 2007 Chicago Marathon as an example of heat exhaustion because it had to be canceled mid-race when temperatures in the high 80s started hurting runners. Some cities, like Mexico City, were ruled out of hosting contention in 2088 because their high elevation makes it difficult to physically exert oneself. And cities with fewer than 600,000 residents currently also were not considered because they are not big enough to host such a massive event.
In fact, the criteria researchers used left few cities suitable outside of Western Europe, which had 25 candidates — including the only four in the entire Northern Hemisphere come the early 22nd century. Those would be Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.
It’s a scary picture of the future, to be sure. But then again, so is the whole idea of climate change. As the study points out, sporting events encompass a tiny fraction of all the physical exertion humans do outdoors. “If the world’s most elite athletes need to be protected from climate change, what about the rest of us?” the paper concludes.
And the study does not even go into rising sea levels, which could make the Bay Area not only unsuitable for something like the Olympics, but generally a horrible place to live.