As for why they are "Green," we must ask the aptly-named Erik the Red, a Viking who, after being exiled from Iceland for murder, took his ships and his entourage and sailed away to the northeast, only to discover a much larger, much colder continent. Ever the optimist, Erik named his country Grœnland (Greenland) in hopes of drawing in new settlers. Talk about false advertising.
Since then, Greenland has pretty much kept to herself in the lunchroom, starting no fights, content to hang out with her best friend Denmark (maybe just making a couple of catty jokes about France -- admit it, we all do).
But Greenland has never done much to get noticed -- until now. This past summer, Greenland has seen more of its ice pack melt than ever in recorded history, adding more fuel to the argument that the world is getting warmer. In four days in July, an "unprecedented" melting took place, and over 97 percent of the surface of the country saw its surface ice melt. Four days prior, the land in meltdown was 40 percent of the surface of the ice pack, a more appropriate number for a summer melt.
Melting even occurred at the Summit Station, the highest and coldest point on the island, which melts about as often as Lex Luthor’s heart.
Many scientists see this as a big deal if the trend continues in future summers. Researchers took core samples of the ice in question and found that similar, stronger-than-average melts had been occurring in Greenland every 150 years, and we just so happened to have been due for one.
Skeptics of global warming are using this science to discount any argument that the Greenland Melt could have had anything to do with human actions. It certainly is possible that this one isn't our fault, but it's worth finding out, isn't it?
Climate change researchers have a plethora of arguments to show that mankind has had a profound effect on our climate, and our planet as a whole, from extreme weather (drought, fires, tornados, hurricanes) to noticeable Arctic and Antarctic ice pack melt. We also may discover that we triggered or exacerbated the Greenland Melt by our actions. We still know so precious little about the way our lives affect the planet.
The fact that we may have had a hand in this event is illustrated pretty neatly by the melting of the permafrost Summit, which is located 3200 meters (about 2 miles) above sea level. Melting usually happens at no higher elevation than 2000 meters, and by usually I mean every time except this one.
A mountain made of ice that is starting to melt when historically it never has before is not a very good sign, and the fact that the Melt news came two days after an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan had broken off the Petermann Glacier, also in Greenland, made this little country quite the media sensation.
Or at least, it should have. But the mainstream media in the US is a curious animal. According to Media Matters, the week that this Greenland story should have been everywhere, the news seemed to be oddly transfixed by Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan and his abs.
So what about stories about Greenland, climate change, you know, the future of the planet? NBC and subsidiary MSNBC were the only major news organizations to run a serious piece about the subject. Fox News did their thing - covering the story as an opportunity to have their scientists debunk global warming "myths."
So, if it has taken two months for this story to reach you, and you are just now hearing this news, you can thank Paul Ryan and his addictive abs. The news is giving you what they think you want.If that’s true, carry on. One of the Kardashians farted today. It’s big news. However, if you’re interested in something more important, tell the networks. Your advertising dollars pay their salaries. They want those salaries. Tell them you want REAL news.
Or perhaps one of our other illustrious cable channels might start covering topics for the mind. Perhaps TLC (whose initials DO stand for "The Learning Channel" after all) could postpone an airing of "Toddlers and Tiaras" to teach the world something that we need to learn.
And here's something for those little princesses to dream about for their futures: if Greenland were to melt, the world's oceans would rise by about 23 feet. That would mean the end of New York City, New Orleans, Houston, much of Los Angeles and other parts of California, a good part of Florida, the list goes on. It would be like Waterworld without a web-footed Kevin Costner. And we all know how much Waterworld sucked.
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Wednesday, 10 October 2012