A Call to Action for U SPORTS Athletes: The Green Circle Movement Returns

The Situation

2023 was the hottest year on record by a longshot. Multiple climate modelling research groups reported global average surface temperature increases near 1.5 °C above the earth’s “pre-industrial average,” the reference period from 1850 to 1900 that is used as a baseline to measure global average temperature increases caused by the massive amount of air pollution that humans started producing during the 1900s. Using extensive weather observations, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service estimated a 1.48 °C increase, NASA estimated a 1.36 °C increase, while reputable independent research group, Berkeley Earth, estimated a 1.54 °C increase.

Why Should You Care About This?

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015, the goal was set to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. This target is based on science reported by the most reputable climate science organization the world has to offer, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We are now dangerously close to sustained temperature levels above this limit. Even at 1.5 °C, studies show occurrences such as food and water shortages or extreme heat would leave hundreds of millions of people outside of livable climate conditions. For millions of people this is already the case. Additionally, outdoor air pollution from fossil fuel combustion causes about 4.5 million deaths annually and hundreds of millions of illnesses.

Last summer, nearly everyone in Canada was subjected to air quality warnings due to forest fires that raged across the country. Unchecked climate change will only worsen these extreme climate disasters. Alberta’s forest fire season for 2024 has ALREADY started.

What Can Be Done?

Universities continue to invest and maintain partnerships with oil and gas companies even though investigative journalists have uncovered hard evidence that these companies have been lying to the public for 40+ years about the negative impacts of burning fossil fuels. University students and athletes do not have to accept these partnerships. The investment required for a clean energy transition is far less than what governments spend to subsidize the fossil fuel industry, and the technology that would facilitate a sustainable future has long existed.

The most important thing people can do to combat the climate crisis is to build mass support for change. Oil and gas companies are very rich, but a lot of money can be beat with a lot of people. The cercle vert (green circle) movement is a climate justice initiative that a couple student-athletes at Université Laval started in 2022. Last year, dozens of athletes wore green circles on their singlets at the 2023 U SPORTS track and field championships. The group has put out a call for a larger display of support at U SPORTS this year, and we encourage student athletes to follow along and join in to show wide support for climate justice initiatives. Sources have told us you can fill out their contact info form to learn more about the goals of the movement and how you can help.

We have added some climate-related figures below for your interest. And yes, we will have a U SPORTS predictions contest up sometime soon.



Annual CO2 Emissions vs. time as reported by Our World In Data
Global Surface Air Temperature Anomaly for 2023 reported by Copernicus Climate Change Service in their 2023 Global Climate Highlights briefing.
Global mean temperature anomaly comparison reported by Berkeley Earth in their 2023 Global Temperature Report.
Yearly comparison of the number of days the global average surface air temperature has risen above specific temperature thresholds as reported by Copernicus Climate Change Service in their 2023 Global Climate Highlights briefing.
Politics of Sport, Post-Secondary

Notable Replies

  1. Nice work, Not Trackie! U-Sports competitors should also be reminded that there is genocidal ethnic cleansing playing out in real time as you assemble to do your thing this weekend-- a process unprecedented in your lifetimes, and in which your own national government is implicated by means of military support for the offending regime.

    So, be sure to wear your green circles, but also take the opportunity to express your concern over the situation in Palestine/Greater Israel.

    Ceasefire Now! Free Palestine!

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