Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on November 6, 2007
Greenland, a misnomer for an island covered in ice, once saw a time when its climate sustained vegetation and forests. A cooling period called the Little Ice Age, which occurred between the 14th and 19th centuries, made Greenland dependant on foreign resources for produce. But according to a recent article in the New York Times, warmer temperatures caused by global warming are creating a climate that can once again sustain plant life.
In fact, this island’s once craggy hills and mountains are sprouting vegetation and warm-water loving cod are making their way to its southern shores. For those debating the validity of global warming, Greenland provides a rare glimpse at the speed with which the climate is changing.
On this island, an increase in temperature of a degree or two becomes a catalyst, changing centuries-old routines and livelihoods. As the Greenland ice sheet thaws due to longer summers and shorter winters, families who once relied on Iceland for vegetables are beginning to grow their own on experimental farms. Trees once thought dormant are showing signs of new growth. The Greenlanders very way of life is changing. And rapidly.
A sheep farmer quoted in the Times article believes the changing climate will give the younger generation of Greenlanders more possibilities. While one can not deny the positive benefits thus far — like better nutrition for the island’s inhabitants — the question begs asking, what does the future hold? The changes taking place, though relatively small, are already affecting the livelihood of this country. It’s inevitable that a continued and sustained rise in temperature will have negative and far-reaching effects on the rest of the world. As the ice thaws due to warmer temperatures, the sea level will rise, impacting North American coastal cities and weather systems around the world.
Greenlanders, aglow in their temporary good fortune, may not yet see the forest for the trees. But it should serve as our warning.