The Oil and the Glory

How global warming may shake up the World Cup and the NBA

How global warming may shake up the World Cup and the NBA

Starbucks is worried about its coffee-making future, leading to its potential expansion into the juice bar business. Experts warn chocolate lovers that cocoa is endangered. To top it off, competitive balance in both the World Cup and international basketball may be turned on its head, suggests a report that says people are shrinking.

In recent days, we have been subject to lifestyle forecasts that for some people will be the most worrisome yet regarding the impact of climate change. Yet we also are getting the usual diet of more standard reflection, including a report from the New York Times’ Elizabeth Rosenthal on global warming’s swift transformation in the United States from a Nobel Prize-winning avocation to "a four-letter word."

The rise of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere from the burning of CO2 is a definitive geopolitical issue, as it will eventually make some nations richer and some poorer, some stronger and some weaker. U.S. military leaders have issued repeated reports — here and here for instance — that climate change poses a national security threat.

China — which a few years ago was the most important outlier in the climate-change debate — now takes the issue seriously, though its economic expansion may eclipse its efforts to reduce emissions, writes Reuters. Around the world, industrial nations are moving to reduce CO2 emissions. But Rosenthal writes that American politics have whipsawed, and complicated, the reduction of emissions.

U.S. ambivalence on the issue is not new — in the 1990s, then-President Bill Clinton knew he would not get the Kyoto Accords through Senate ratification, so he never submitted the agreement to the process. Yet one wonders whether, if the prospect of rising seas and the loss of national wealth and geopolitical power did not grab attention, the specter of losing a world sports title will.

According to a report in Nature Climate Change, two researchers at the National University of Singapore have found that species are shrinking with the march of climate change — including humans. "Reduced food supplies are likely to mean that animals at the top of their food chains — including humans — will grow to smaller sizes, have fewer offspring, and be more vulnerable to disease," writes the Daily Telegraph, reporting on the study.

Studies have shown that global warming will affect regions of the Earth differently — some countries will see stark affects, and others won’t. Applying that concept, one over time could find soccer or basketball players who grow up in drought-stricken regions — say, the state of Texas (the Dallas Mavericks’s current crop is pictured above) — outclassed by athletes from currently underrated, rain-drenched locales such as the Indian state of Assam. Scouts pay attention.