Greenland likes global warming

The Scotsman:

RARELY a month goes by without another scientific survey proclaiming that Greenland's ice sheet is melting faster than previously thought. But for the 56,000 people who live on the giant Arctic island, climate change is now being seen as an opportunity rather than a threat: a passport to prosperity, perhaps even independence.

The self-governing Danish territory didn't miss the chance to promote itself on the world stage this week when diplomats from Denmark, Norway, Russia, Canada and the United States gathered in the town of Ilulissat, halfway up the west coast, to discuss competing claims for territory in a region believed to contain a quarter of the world's un-discovered oil and gas reserves.

"We are the first ones to notice climate changes, so it's important people co-operate with us," said Greenland's prime minister, Hans Enoksen. "We live in the Arctic and are daily users of the natural world, so we feel it's important we take the natural world and animal life into consideration in our decisions."

Few could deny Greenland's Inuit understand the effects of global warming better than anyone on the planet. They have had a front-row seat to see the glaciers retract and the sea ice thin, altering a traditional way of life that has existed for 3,000 years. But global warming is also heating up the economy.

The fishing industry, which accounts for almost all of its exports, remains strong. Having opted out of the European Union in 1979, Greenland is not restricted by fishing quotas, and stocks remain healthy. This gives Royal Greenland, the state-owned seafood company, a monopoly in Arctic waters, which are home to some of the world's finest quality fish.

Tourism is the biggest growth industry, while rising temperatures could soon leave most of the Arctic ice-free in the summer, opening up the Northwest Passage and cutting thousands of miles off the shipping route from Europe to Asia.

But the key to Greenland's future lies under the seabed. Producers have drilled just six wells – and only once since the 1970s – but record oil prices and declining reserves elsewhere have persuaded at least half a dozen companies to take the plunge.

Cairn Energy, the Edinburgh-based oil exploration company, controls or has a stake in six of ten blocks of territory leased by the Greenland government and will be at the forefront of the search off the west coast. It plans to conduct seismic testing soon to determine the size of its reserves. And Greenland is preparing to cash in.

So Greenland can "cash in" on offshore oil production but the Democrats will not let the US do the same. It does not appear to be of any great concern that their ice sheet is melting. In fact they seem to be looking forward to it. I expect that farming will also be a growth business in Greenland. After all they need to be able to feed all those greenies coming to see the end of the world.


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