Paris, When it Sizzles

Lisa Schiffren30 Mar, 2024 4 Min Read
This time, with pants but less steak au poivre.

The Olympics come to Paris this summer. But these games will have one notable difference from those in years past. All of the sports facilities, tourist necessities, and housing for athletes are being built with a clear eye on the "climate change" calculus. Even with 10,500 athletes and an estimated 15 million spectators, Paris aims to host the greenest, most carbon-free Olympics in history. Except of course for the original ones back in Greece in 776 B.C., and those for centuries to come, until about 393 A.D., when the last recorded pre-modern Olympics were played. Those games didn’t suffer from thousands of athletes and fans flying in in private jets, or any other kind, or using resources that require massive energy to generate them. Cities were not radically rebuilt to house those games.

Still, the plan is for this to be the greenest modern Olympics and in consequence, the New York Times reports,  “The organizers say they’re putting the games on a climate diet. These Olympics, they say, will generate no more than half the greenhouse gas emissions of recent Olympics.” This quixotic goal will necessarily affect everything: the availability of electricity, what kind of food is served, which buildings are used, and transportation. For instance, the Times noted a surprisingly un-Parisian twist, namely that the committee is “planning guest menus that are less polluting to grow and cook than typical French fare: more plants, less steak au poivre.”

If it was good enough for Tarzan, it's good enough for you.

Similarly, the French are “making more space for bikes and less for cars, doing away with huge, diesel-powered generators, a fixture of big sporting events.” And, “solar panels will float, temporarily, on the Seine.” Paris will also be doing less than most cities do to build new facilities, building fewer buildings and in some cases using older, preexistent ones.

For example, they'll be reusing a swimming pool built for the 1924 Paris Olympics. The Piscine des Tourelles is getting a new air filtration system, as well as a new roof that is supposed to let in light but keep out heat. The 40-year old wooden bleachers are staying. The walls remain what the Times calls “sturdy stucco.” The pool has historic significance, of a sort. In 1924 Johnny Weissmuller, who went on to play Tarzan in the movies, won a gold medal.

According to the Times, “roughly 95 percent of the venues to be used in the 2024 games are old buildings or temporary structures. Several temporary pools will be built for the games, then taken apart and re-installed in communities that have a dearth of public pools.”

When it comes to housing the athletes, the traditional 128-acre Olympic village that they are building is being made with less cement and more wood. Many of the buildings have wooden frames, which is very retro at this moment in steel, cement, and glass high rise urban architecture. Athlete housing will be turned into residences for some 6,000 people when the games are over. Moreover, organizers told the Times that they plan on buying “carbon credits” to offset the cost of construction. If ever there was a murky market where values are not quite self-evident, and virtues are less evident still, it is the carbon credit market.

But there's been a little bit of a controversy surrounding the fact that the Olympic village is being built without air conditioning. Imagine that! While it's true that most of Europe is not air-conditioned, given how hot Paris can get in the summer, it's hardly a luxury item for an international sporting event; heat waves in August during which temperatures top 100F are not unknown. Which is why several teams -- such as those from the United States, Norway, Canada, Australia, and Ireland -- have already announced that they are bringing their own air conditioners. Chances are many other countries will be following their lead. Forgoing air conditioning, which is what makes half the world habitable in the summer, seems little more than naked virtue signaling.

Paris, heat-wave summer of 2002: still time for amour.

The city has planted thousands of trees in recent years to provide summer shade. And this year they are setting up misting towers. And they’re putting out big umbrellas for shade.

More dramatically, the Place de la Concorde, an 18th century plaza where, during the French Revolution guillotines were used, will be home to Olympic skateboarding. For the "climate change" revolution, the plaza will have a high-powered electric outlet to generate power, instead of the usual diesel generator that is used in most sporting events to provide steady power. The city is also scrambling to build bike lanes and remove car lanes from the city’s grid.

But the dirty little secret is that Paris’s subway system, le Métro, and buses are seriously overcrowded. The city has been warning commuters to stay home and work remotely during the games, so tourists can get around. Let's see how that works for Olympics tourism. If it's a sizzling summer in Paris this year the world can judge just how well all these lower carbon emissions efforts work. Or don't, as the case may be. 

Lisa Schiffren has been an editorial writer, political reporter, war correspondent, (Afghanistan during the Soviet war, before there were roads), and GOP speechwriter. She wrote speeches for Vice President Dan Quayle, and worked in Counterterrorism/Special Operations policy at the Department of Defense. She writes these days from her native New York City.


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2 comments on “Paris, When it Sizzles”

  1. Prediction: The green cult will combine with France's imported terrorist population to turn that Olympics into a smoking hole of failure.

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