The Vancouver Winter Olympics has been crowned by many media outlets as the greenest Olympics ever—a title earned because of the city's commitment to CO2 offsets, energy efficiency, and recycling. And while some people gripe that Vancouver didn't do nearly enough, the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia may make the Canadian games look like a bastion of sustainability.
With four years left to go, the Sochi Olympics Committee has already succeeded in contaminating water with heavy metal waste, destroying bear and bird habitats, and downing thousands of endangered trees. The mess hasn't gone unnoticed by environmental organizations. The World Wildlife Fund suspended ties with the Sochi Olympic Committee last week and cut off communication completely with Olympstroi, the state Olympic construction agency. Greenpeace Russia has also stopped talking to Olympic organizers in the country.
Unfortunately, Sochi doesn't have much motivation to green its games. While countries gunning for the 2016 Summer Olympics spot had to prove their green mettle, Russia somehow scored its spot without outlining much of a sustainability plan. The WWF and Greenpeace are grasping at straws and trying to put pressure on the UN to help out. But if that doesn't work, it will be up to the public—and maybe even environmentally-conscious Olympians—to force Sochi into cleaning up its act.