Greenland’s ice is melting faster because of warming oceans. The ice sheets on the island hold enough water to raise sea levels by 25 feet. (NASA photo)
Sometimes a headline makes you go, “huh.” Then you think about it, and it’s even worse. The story: President Donald J. Trump is interested in purchasing Greenland.
This is Trahant Reports.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the president listened intently when advisers discussed the island’s resources and geopolitical importance and that he asked his White House counsel to look into the prospect of a purchase.
The Greenland Ministry of Foreign Affairs fired back saying it is “not for sale.”
Denmark, the colonial power in Greenland, instituted home rule after a 1979 vote. The people of Greenland, Indigenous people, the Kalaallit, voted overwhelmingly for the provision including the eventual outcome of an independent state.
So living under another colonial regime is probably not in the cards.
But the president could learn a lot by finding out more about Greenland and the challenges in the Arctic.
Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are finding that Greenland is experiencing climate change faster than the rest of the planet. This is a big deal because Greenland’s melting ice affects the whole world. The ice sheets on the island hold enough water to raise sea levels by 25 feet. NASA found that warmer air is melting Greenland’s ice. But so are warmer oceans.
As NASA puts it: “Humans are changing the climate by burning fossil fuels for energy. These add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, which trap extra heat from the sun and warm the air and oceans. But the oceans get most of the extra heat. In fact, more than 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases warms the oceans, not the air.”
One scientist, Josh Willis, is trying to find out which is causing the most warming, air or water. And he thinks it might be water. In the long run, he said, the oceans are warming.” And seeing the oceans have such a huge impact on the glaciers is bad news for Greenland’s ice sheet.” That could mean that Greenland’s ice sheets are melting more quickly than previously thought and sea levels will rise faster with more coastal communities in a flood zone.
Perhaps a few trips to Greenland would change the president’s mind about global warming and what should be done next.
In the meantime the government of Greenland tweeted:
#Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism. We’re open for business, not for sale.”
I suppose at least the island is getting global attention. But it would be better if the president’s interest included learning about what global warming is doing to that island — and to our future.
I am Mark Trahant.