Image of the Week

Climate Change at the Olympic Opening Ceremony

Photo: lazyllama /
Rio 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony
The opening ceremony featured artistic displays symbolizing the degradation of the Amazon forest by humans. (Andy Miah/ Flickr)

On Friday, the Summer Olympics began in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with the traditional opening ceremony and torch-lighting. But in a highly unorthodox move, Brazil took its moment with 3.3 billion people around the world watching to highlight the dangers of climate change, global warming, and sea level rise. The ceremony included a somber video that showed the melting of the polar ice cap, the rising of the earth’s temperature, and the threat posed by sea level rise to major cities across the world, including Shanghai, Miami, Amsterdam, Dubai, Lagos, and Rio. Though unusual for an opening ceremony, it makes sense that Brazil would use this unique opportunity to call the world to action on climate change. 2016 is likely to be the hottest year ever recorded, Brazil is one of the countries likely to be hit hardest by climate change, and like the Olympic Games, climate change is one of the few things that truly unites all the countries of the world - all countries have contributed to the problem, all countries will be effected, and all countries will be needed to help confront the challenge.


Ken Sofer was a summer fellow with the Resource Security program at New America where he worked on the intersection between climate change, resource competition, and international security.