In a piece he wrote for the Guardian, Richter explains the threat and the dire consequences if not resolved. Richter said this is an international threat the international community must face.
"The short-term sacrifices we'll make in order to meet this challenge pale in comparison to both the payback and the cost of ignoring the threat." Richter wrote. "A recent study estimated that the cost of climate change to the US alone will be $271bn per year by 2025, and more than $1.8tn per year by the end of the century."
In the relatively short time since he competed, he says that climate change has already had dramatic effects.
"The roots of my sport are in the frozen ponds, lakes, and rivers of North America. Though I grew up in Philadelphia, I skated outdoors as much as possible. But things have changed since I began skating; today, these same ponds, lakes and rivers are freezing later and melting earlier. Ice that lasts throughout the winter is, for the most part, a thing of the past. A recent McGill University study suggested that climate change may cause natural ice to disappear altogether, even across Canada, where some rinks now use expensive, artificial ice."
He also mentions the Keystone XL pipeline approval, which U.S. President Obama says he will only sign if it passes certain "climate tests." The pipleline, which Richter says will make the problem worse, will be a test for Obama to see if he is serious about fighting climate change.
"We are quite literally on thin ice." Richter wrote. "This is a critical moment, and the decisions we make now will lock us into a climactic trajectory forever. The odds are against us, but we can overcome this challenge."
Swim Week Miami Beach 2014 [PHOTOS]