Arctic Alert



Greenland was truly green in 985 AD when the Vikings led by Eric the Red discovered this vast Arctic island during the Medieval Warm Period that lasted approximately 400 years from 900–1300 AD.

Now, long after nearly all traces of a Viking civilization vanished, much of Greenland has thawed and is becoming true to its name once again.

A natural balance has shifted, and a new invasion now threatens this sparsely populated land.  Those hungry for its wealth of minerals and tempted by possible fossil fuel are eager to rush in. Even more so are those seeking its strategic access for shipping and polar defense capabilities.  Such anti-environmental aspirations already surfaced in President Trump’s futile attempt to buy the island from Denmark.


“The Arctic is warming at a rate of almost twice the global average,” declares the World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund).

Obviously not just Greenland is being affected.  The NY Times warns “warming waters associated with climate change are causing some fish to seek cooler waters elsewhere, beyond the reach of Icelandic fishermen.  Ocean temperatures around Iceland have increased between 1.8 and 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 20 years.”

“Without urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the world will continue to feel the effects of a warming Arctic: rising sea levels, changes in climate and precipitation patterns, increasing severe weather events, and loss of fish stocks, birds and marine mammals.”

A major problem is oxygen, which is far less prevalent in warmer waters.  Many traditional fishermen have been turning to fish farms to stabilize the temperatures and lower the risks of going out to sea.  At the same time, farmed fish with their contained existence are far more susceptible to bacteria and disease.


So many of the northern mammals are now threatened.  Polar bears, whales and seals all are at great risk of losing their natural environment.  Both nations and individuals alike should be finding ways to protect these endangered species and minimize the global threat to their existence.  We should be working to save rather than helping to speed the destruction.


Far-Reaching Effects

U.S. Government’s independent Marine Mammal Commission studies point out: “The effects of a warming atmosphere on physical, chemical, biological, and human components of Arctic ecosystems are myriad, far-reaching, and accelerating.

“The warming has caused a cascade of physical changes, from direct effects such as the melting of sea-ice and sea level rise, to secondary effects such as decreased albedo (surface reflectivity) and coastal erosion, to tertiary effects such as the accelerated warming of the ocean due to feedback loops between different climate factors.”

Extensive Wild Fires

By late July, wild fires in Siberia, Alaska, Greenland and Canada “had released 100m tonnes of carbon.” Imagine “an amount similar to the annual output of countries like Belgium, Kuwait or Nigeria.” EarthSky Communications declared: “By the middle of August, the smoke cloud covered an area larger than the European Union.

“An extraordinary 32 degree C (90 degree F) heatwave fueled a particularly intense fire season in Alaska, which released roughly three times more carbon than the state emits each year from burning fossil fuels.”

What About The Natives

The Arctic remains home to a diverse, partly-indigenous population of several million who, because of this enormous thaw, now face effects of climate change that manifest in pollution, over-fishing, habitat fragmentation, and cultural and economic transformation.  Although proposed development and exploitation of the region might drive corporate profits, it remains highly unlikely the people of the Arctic regions will derive any significant benefit as their habitat slowly disappears.  They need our help.


About the Article

An editorial view of the risks of global warming for the Arctic.

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