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Strawberries....from Greenland?

by Susan Clark

November 23rd, 2012

I don't want to be told that thanks to Global Warming - now accepted by the majority (77%) of Americans and so therefore, in my opinion, a new Tipping Point - strawberry plants can now survive a Greenland winter.

I don't want to go to bed thinking about strawberries growing in Greenland

I don't want to see neat little rows of budding lettuce plants growing outside a polytunnel. OUTSIDE a polytunnel; over-wintering under the snow but come the Spring, still alive and sprouting new shoots; cabbage and potatoes to follow.

And I don't want to hear a Greenlander livestock farmer telling me that (once again, thanks to Global Warming) he now has enough newly ice-free pasture land to double the size of his 20,000-strong flock of sheep.

None of this is what I want to hear or see. But if I thought that was bad, the worst moment in the whole 60-something minutes of the new CNN film Greenland: Secrets in the Ice was the moment when presenter, Fred Pleitgen tells me that after strawberries and lettuce and pasture fields bulging with ever more sheep, it will be the miners moving in - looking for the huge reserves of diamonds, gold, uranium, gas and oil they believe to be hiding under the ice. 

"Mining companies are hoping for a bonanza here, if the ice continues to retreat," Fred adds.

Some are already drilling.

In other words, we can look on the bright side because as the Earth warms and the Artic ice melts, someone, somewhere can push the business-as-usual 'growth/greed' agenda and make some more money. Lots more money.

This programme - a kind of idiot's guide to why we might want to think twice about destroying our planet - follows Polar 6; an ice survey research plane now mapping the alarming rate of ice-melt across Greenland which is the world's largest island.

As it flies over clear blue pools of ice-water melts, Fred tells us that recent NASA images have shown an unprecedented level of surface ice melt there: 97 %. I think I have misheard that so I rewind and play it again. 97% says Fred. Can that be right? I rewind. Again. 97 %. "Twice the usual amount." he notes solemnly.

In fact, the Artic ice sheet is losing mass at an alarming rate: close to 300 square kilometres  (115 square miles) a year.

The Polar 6 reseachers, who are from Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, explain that the Secrets in the Ice (from the title) they are looking for are in fact those pieces of information that make up a kind of frozen archive of information about previous climatic conditions including temperature, ash (from volcanoes) precipitation levels and dust particles present.  A solidly-preserved record, if you will, of the climate that goes back 100,000 years. And for this they drill down deep into the ice covering the middle of mainland Greenland.

Cold. Hostile. Gigantic.

An ice sheet more than twice the size of Texas. 

A frozen winter wonderland.

Now that's what I want to hear when someone tells me about the ice sheet that covers vast tracts of Greenland making it the second biggest ice mass in the world.  

Until the rest of it melts ....

I switch off. Depressed. I turn the TV back to the UK's good old BBC where a couple of gents have just won the Pointless Quiz Show Jackpot of £20,000.

"What will you do with the money?" asks that presenter.

"Oh travel, of course," says one.

"To the Artic," adds his mate. "Yes, we like a cruise."

"Better get on with it then," I found myself shouting. "Or else the only thing you will see will be oil rigs and strawberry fields ....Forever!"

When is it on?

Greenland: Secrets in the Ice is being screened this weekend by CNN International on Saturday November 24 at 09:00 & 20:00; Sunday November 25 at 02:00 & 10:00 and Monday November 26 at 03:00 (all times GMT.)

It's written and produced for the mainstream, so SkyPlus it for your friends who are still climate sceptics. 

Susan Clark is Managing Editor of Resurgence & Ecologist.

*images courtesy of www.shutterstock.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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