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Opening ceremony of the Olympic Games brings climate change discussion to 3 billion people

The Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games was used as the means for a still little known message: the urgency of global warming. With an audience of 3 billion people, this was “probably the largest audience in history for the climate theme”, according to Observatório do Clima, a iCS grantee.


A video produced by filmmaker Fernando Meirelles, a co-director of the ceremony, led the public through scenes illustrating the melting of the icecaps, temperature records broken in recent years, the rising of sea levels and the importance of forests in the carbon cycle.  Paulo Artaxo, a USP physicist and an IPCC member, and Tasso Azevedo, a forestry engineer, who is the SEEG (Greenhouse Gas Emission Estimate System) coordinator at Observatório do Clima acted as consultants in the production of the short film.


A spiral graph showed the temperature increase since 1850, and a projection portrayed the expected effect of the sea rising in cities like Rio, Shanghai, Amsterdam and Dubai. The message ended with the poem Flower and Nausea, by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, read by actresses Fernanda Montenegro and Judi Dench in Portuguese and English.


In addition to the video, the sustainability theme permeated the entire ceremony. The Olympic cauldron, lit by marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, is the smallest in the history of the Games. The goal is to warn the public about greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Each athlete who participated in the parade of delegations planted a tree seed, which, later, will be transplanted at the Deodoro Park, one of the competition venues. At the end, the planting structures exploded in a splash of green to form the Olympic rings.

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