Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Climate Change and Indoor vs. Outdoor Hockey

Ice melts when temperature exceeds 32 F.  Many Canadian kids have practiced hockey on frozen outdoor ponds and lakes. If climate change warms winters, will the quality of NHL hockey suffer?  This article says "yes".    An economist might posit that indoor hockey rinks are a close substitute for outdoor frozen lakes. While it will be more costly in terms of time in travelling to an indoor rink, players will gain from learning how to play on a "real regulation size" rink rather than on some piece of outdoor ice.   No NHL arenas are outdoors. In the big leagues everyone plays inside.

This hockey example raises a key issue for climate adaptation optimists.  In the near future, how much time will we spend outside versus inside?  How close substitutes are the two activities?   In cities such as Houston where it is hot and humid, how much time do people spend inside versus outside in summer? As we reallocate our time to cope with new climate conditions, do we lose pleasure or do we learn that walking at night and in the early morning outside is fine while during the heat of the day one spends it enjoying indoor air conditioning?

Similar with hockey, who are these Canadian rural hockey players who lose their chance to play hockey if the ice melts early?  What adaptation strategies do they have? Will their parents move closer to cities where there are indoor rinks?  The pessimists are afraid to admit that we have a large number of coping mechanisms for facing the new challenges we have unleashed.