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What the Olympics could look like in 2048 if we continue destroying our planet

Nature is being lost at a rate unprecedented in human history. Average global temperatures have risen by more than 1.0°C since pre-industrial times - dangerously close to breaching the critical 1.5 degree increase that would cause irreversible change. When it comes to nature loss and the climate crisis, there are no winners. Their impact will not only devastate wildlife and ecosystems - they will be felt (and are already being felt) by us no matter where we are in the world and in all areas of our lives, including sport. As the world sets its eyes on the Tokyo Olympics, let’s remind ourselves that we must protect and restore our planet if we are to continue the sports that we hold dear and bring us together. Here's what the Olympics of the future could look like if we don't:

Healthy soil is disappearing from the surface of the Earth at a rate of 24 billion tons a year. Half of all the topsoil on our planet has already been lost in the last 150 years due to deforestation, overgrazing, unsustainable agriculture and land use, as well as the effects of pollution and the climate crisis. Healthy, functioning soil is not only home to almost 90% of living organisms in terrestrial ecosystems, but is relied on for the production of over 95% of our food and for freshwater for most of the world’s population.

An estimated 9 out of 10 people globally breathe polluted air, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The small particles in polluted air which enter our lungs and bloodstream can cause diseases including stroke, heart disease, and lung cancer as well as respiratory infections like pneumonia. Research suggests that exposure to polluted air already causes over 7 million deaths each year - a number that will only increase if we continue to burn fossil fuels and waste, use diesel and gasoline to power vehicles, and destroy the forests that help clean our air.

Eight million tonnes of plastic enter our ocean every year, and by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the sea. Plastics not only harm marine wildlife - they break down into tiny pieces called microplastics, small enough to enter our food chain. Research shows that the average person could be unknowingly ingesting around 5 grams of plastic every week, the equivalent weight of a credit card.

The climate crisis is causing global sea levels to rise 2.5 times faster than in the last century. By 2050, as sea levels rise and fish stocks shift due to a warming ocean, one billion people who live in low-lying coastal areas will be at risk. By 2100, if we continue at the current rate, major cities - including Jakarta, Lagos, Houston, Venice, Bangkok, Dhaka, Rotterdam, and Miami - could be underwater.


There are things we can win, and there are things we must win. The battle against nature loss and the climate crisis can only be won we work together and make the protection of our planet a global priority.   Over the next few months and into 2022, world leaders will be coming together to attend major United Nations policy conferences. Sign our Voice for the Planet petition to let them know that you care about the fate of our one home, urging them to step up their efforts to protect and restore our planet within the next decade



What the Olympics could look like