Greenlanders Apprehensive, Resilient as Melting Accelerates
As melting accelerates across Greenland, the majority of its citizens are concerned about climate change, though only four in 10 fear direct harm to themselves, according to a recent survey by the University of Greenland, the University of Copenhagen, and Copenhagen-based Kraks Fond Institute for Urban Economic Research.
The relatively low proportion of Greenlanders who feel at personal risk today may reflect the reality that “the immediate effects of climate change have been a double-edged sword,” Reuters reports.
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Thus far, the warming climate has been something of a boon for tour operators like Lars Anker-Moeller, who lives in the sub-Arctic hamlet of Taslilaq on Greenland’s southeastern shore. While lack of sea ice is cutting into the 45-year-old’s sledding operations, more open water earlier in the season has been good news for his boat tours.
“Instead of having three months, we can go (on boats) four months or five months,” Moeller told Reuters.
And then there is the fact that a melting Greenland is proving a tourist magnet: “Go and see the glaciers before they disappear. That’s the thing you hear again and again,” Moeller added.
Also perceived as a “silver lining,” Reuters writes, has been the sudden arrival of lucrative mackerel in offshore waters that were once far too cold to sustain them.
Among the Greenlanders beginning to feel the heat is 40-year-old hunter Julius Nielsen, who lives some 45 kilometres from Taslilaq.
“There’s no snow, it’s too hot, and the water is not freezing,” he told the news agency, describing how “over the last 10 years, it has become increasingly hard to reach usual hunting grounds with sled dogs due to unpredictable weather, thinning ice, or no ice at all.”
“Every year we see the glaciers, the landscape, the ice sheet melting and melting,” he said. “What we know from our ancestors is almost gone and we cannot take it back. We have to find new tools.”
But Moeller is confident those tools will emerge. “The beauty is that Greenlanders have always been good at adapting, so they will survive anyway, whatever will happen,” he said.