‘Climate Changeup’: Yankees Hire Environmental Science Adviser

New York Yankees
Getty Images/Al Bello

Allen Hershkowitz hopes to make climate change a regular feature on the sports pages of American media whether fans like it or not.

And the new environmental science adviser for the New York Yankees hopes to convince people to embrace global warming just like the team they love.

Yale University’s Climate Connections program reported on the development:

To understand the influence of sports, look no further than fans’ passion during last month’s World Series.

Sports teams have a massive platform, and Allen Hershkowitz believes they can use it to encourage a cultural shift on climate change.

“Every day, in every city with a newspaper, there’s a sports section,” Hershkowitz said. “There’s not a science section every day, but there is a sports section.

“I am the only environmental science advisor in professional sports,” Hershkowitz said. “I cannot tell you how influential it is.”

The article said that “under his guidance” the Yankees signed the United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework, “a pledge to raise awareness and achieve climate goals.”

Hershkowitz said the move inspired other sports to follow suit.

“The NBA, they signed the climate pledge,” Hershkowitz says. “The U.S. Tennis Association signed the pledge once the Yankees did. Wimbledon. Tennis Australia. Minnesota Wild. I mean, I could go on and on.

“Hershkowitz hopes that as more teams get involved, so too do their fans, and that could be a win for the climate,” the Yale articles said.

The Green Sports Blog praised Hershkowitz’s resume:

The longtime senior scientist, ex-President of the Green Sports Alliance and Founding Director of Sport and Sustainability International (SandSI) becomes the first person to hold such a title in team sports history. Already a major advance in the Green-Sports movement, the Yankees’ move has the chance to be a true game changer.

The Yankees have been at the forefront of the Green-Sports movement since they moved into the new Yankee Stadium in 2009, often with Hershkowitz’ counsel as a consultant. 

Sustainability initiatives include:

  • Diverting 85 percent of waste from landfill by recycling and composting, very close to the 90 percent threshold required to claim Zero-Waste status
  • Innovating on energy efficiency through the introduction of LED lighting and more
  • Measuring, reducing and offsetting the team’s greenhouse gas emissions impacts. The latter includes the distribution of thousands of life-saving, high-efficiency cookstoves to women in Africa

Hershkowitz also a senior scientist at the left-wing Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“The Yankees have always been devoted to supporting the best interests of our community, our fans and our players, and we believe effective eco-friendly initiatives are a key element of our interactions,” Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ principal owner and managing general partner, said in a statement published on the Green Sports Blog website. “We have made significant strides throughout the years, and as such, Yankee Stadium is proud to promote a zero-waste economy, and stand as one of the most successful recycling and composting venues in all of sports…We look forward to even more improvement under Allen’s guidance.”

The Green Sports blog also warned the Yankees that they have to do two things to make this “progress” real:  “Climate change, not spoken of much by the Yankees to this point, must consistently and clearly be communicated as a prime focus of the Yankees’ environmental efforts, and engage fans — those who attend games and the larger number who follow the team on TV, online and elsewhere — to take positive environmental actions.” 

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