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Climate change could make SF the only Olympic venue in America, claims report

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Maybe. Possibly. Stranger things have happened...

In the midst of all the golden news down in Rio, we may wonder, what’s it going to take for San Francisco to host the Summer Olympics? The answer: the end of the world.

No, really, that’s the answer. At least, according to a paper (cheerfully titled, "The Last Summer Olympics?") published in the scientific journal The Lancet, examining the impact of climate change on the future of the summer games.

By 2085, rising global temperatures may make it impossible to safely hold the games anywhere in the United States except for San Francisco, which at that point will be one of only 33 eligible cities worldwide.

Now, the science employed here includes a lot of qualifiers. The paper’s authors rely on certain models of temperature rise over the next seven decades, and assume that the International Olympic Committee would not want to hold the games anywhere with a more than 10 percent chance of having to cancel certain events to avoid "exertional heat stroke and its negative outcomes, including mortality."

(The paper cites the examples of the catastrophic 2007 Chicago Marathon and the 30 percent dropout rate for US team qualifying races in LA this year.)

Other standards are employed to eliminate most potential future host cities as well: Any city with a population less than 600,000 (in 2012) is assumed not to have the proper infrastructure, for example. And predictions were limited to the Northern Hemisphere, since that’s where 90 percent of the world’s population lives.

Assuming we (perhaps generously) take all of the above as a given, the results are potentially cheerful for the Bay Area’s Olympian ambitions: Only three cities in all of North America could safely host such events under 2085 climate conditions. And other than San Francisco, all of them are in Canada.

Yes, we’d be the sole US host under this model, a choice status that, as SF Weekly points out, we’ve been pursuing without fortune for a decade.

Of course, we’d also probably be in dire social and environmental straits thanks to ongoing climate related catastrophes. But hey, why accentuate the negative?