QAQORTOQ, Greenland — The biggest island in the world is a wind-raked place, gripped by ice over four-fifths of its land, prowled by polar bears, its coastlines choked by drifting icebergs and sea ice. Many of its 56,000 people, who live on the fringes of its giant ice cap, see the effects of global warming — and cheer it on.
“It’s good for me,” said Ernst Lund, a lanky young man who is one of 51 farmers raising sheep on the southern tip of Greenland. His animals scramble over the cold granite hills of a dramatic fiord, his farm isolated from the nearest town by a long boat ride threading past drifting mounds of ice, followed by a jolting truck trip along seven miles of gravel road.
“I can keep the sheep out two weeks longer to feed in hills in the autumn. And I can grow more hay. The sheep get fatter,” he said.
“Already we are starting our sentences by saying, ‘In the days when it was cold,’ ” reflected [Karo] Thomsen, 45, who in 1991 became the first Greenland woman to ski across the ice cap. “We’re starting to talk about it like it was history, and it’s only been about five years.”
Her husband has mushed for thousands of miles across the northern edges of Greenland, Canada and Alaska to match the record of the legendary explorer Knud Rasmussen. Yet he dismisses with a wave any sentiment over the shrinking ice.
“With the warmer weather, we don’t have to fight the cold so much. Our health is better. Our equipment doesn’t break down so much, and we don’t use so much fuel. The time for industry is longer, and there are more places we can go by boat,” [Ono] Fleischer, 59, said before a lunch of reindeer meat in his house overlooking Ilulissat. “I can’t think of any negative consequences.”
…Global warming could be an opportunity to develop other resources. Four oil companies have applied to explore off shore, mining companies are sniffing out uranium and gold, and two aluminum companies want to build smelting plants and use the gushing glacial meltwater for hydroelectric power.
“Of course there will be negative impacts on the environment,” [Environment Minister Alfred] Jakobsen acknowledged. “But we have to have an income. We cannot just be a living zoo. It would be hard for Greenland not to utilize these gifts from nature.”
Acknowledging that a changing climate has both pluses and minuses? That’s heresy at a place like the Post, to saw nothing of the activist-industrial complex here in DC. Let’s keep an eye out for any hasty resignations or any editors who suddenly decide to “spend more time with their families.” The alarmist crowd is going to be wanting heads to roll over this one.