May 30 – Greenland still locked in ice. Not a “long and balmy summer”
I rearranged the order of the paragraphs to show how spectacularly daft that magazine has become. In the past, climatic shifts were due to unknown “natural variations” but now they are unequivocally due to burning oil.
If they don’t know what caused the earlier warming, how could they possibly know the same thing isn’t causing the present warming?
Of course, it is the burning of such oil that has led to this warming in the first place, thanks to increasing concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Already, those increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases are warming the planet’s overall climate to the point that the meltdown of Greenland’s ice sheet is speeding up, which could raise global sea levels a meter by 2100 at present rates, among other impacts.
The Norse came to a new land around the end of the first millennium, borne on the backs of their Viking long ships and lured away from Iceland by the promise of Erik the Red’s Greenland. The land was indeed green when they landed—and stayed that way for several centuries until natural variations in the planet’s climate cooled the world’s largest island by 4 degrees Celsius. Years of such cool summers doomed the Greenland Norse, and their outpost froze to death by 1500.
“You have an interval when the summers are long and balmy and you build up the size of your farm,” says D’Andrea of the Norse interlude. “Then suddenly, year after year, you go into this cooling trend and the summers are getting shorter and colder and you can’t make as much hay. You can imagine how that particular lifestyle may not be able to make it.”
That warming indeed looks set to continue and will ultimately doom, at the very least, Greenlanders’ traditional way of life. But the changes in Greenland this time may prove to be global. “If we don’t keep the Greenland Ice Sheet intact, we will lose a lot of coastline,”