In 1998, the Director of Planet Drum Foundation and another member of the Bioregional Association of the Northern Americas trekked to Nagano, Japan and spent several exciting weeks working with Guard Fox Watch, a bioregional action group whose aim was to raise consciousness around the issue of the Olympics’ effect on the watersheds and environment where the Games took place.
In an article at the time, Renate Suzuki reported on Guard Fox Watch’s unique perspective on The Olympics, “With a bioregional approach to planning the Games, the organizers could have, for instance, developed solar, wind, and hot spring steam power sources to generate the required extra electricity, thus building sustainable facilities which would remain to benefit the region.”
Now, as we approach the next 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, those actions of 1998 resonate even louder today. More groups are starting to come together to plan for actions leading up to the next Games. This time we want the World to know that the environment can have a voice too.
This web site will be a central switchboard to report on the groups, activities and plans leading up to the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Excerpts from Renate Suzuki’s article, “Peter Berg’s Olympic Message” in Japan Environment Monitor, Feb/Mar, 1998.
“[Peter] Berg homes in on the example of the Nagano Winter Olympic Games to illustrate how a bioregional way of thinking would bring benefits to the community. He describes the Olympic Games as a facet of global monoculture, similar to McDonalds, Coca Cola, et al., which have no relationship to the place they go, and, since the media advertisers and land developers make their profits irrespective of future land use, leave only waste and abandoned stadiums in their wake. Aside from the estimated Olympian burden of $30,000 per Nagano City taxpayer over the next 20 years to pay for the party, Peter highlights the damage to natural systems: watersheds suffer chemical pollution from snow-bonded auto exhaust and overuse of highway salts. Soil erosion from 115 km of newly built roads in the geologically sensitive Nagano mountains is acute.
Native plant and animal communities are disrupted by both habitat destruction due to building and crowd noise during their most difficult survival season. He gives a first hand account of the 87 metric tons of extra Olympic garbage being incinerated and the increased auto pollution which now sully the air at Hakuba. With a bioregional approach to planning the Games, the organizers could have, for instance, developed solar, wind, and hot spring steam power sources to generate the required extra electricity, thus building sustainable facilities which would remain to benefit the region. A few well-devised policies to subsidize and create genuine and thorough recycling programs would help provide new long-term employment and wealth for the area, and Berg laments the lost opportunity with the words “The real loss of the Games is to Nagano.” The Guard Fox Watch slogan sums it up: “Nobody wins the Games if Nature loses!”