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Greenland Becomes A Greenhouse. Literally.

Greenland Becomes A Greenhouse. Literally.

Despite its verdant sound, Greenland is an icy wasteland. At some point, say†65 million years ago, Greenland was†home to ferns and other lush vegetation. But ever since the dinosaurs died off, there’s been nothing but ice, even in summer. Until now.

A chef in Kangerlussuaq,†Greenland, recently made headlines for his thriving garden. He’s growing†potatoes, thyme, tomatoes, green peppers, right smack dab in the middle of the Arctic circle. While this is amazing news for his fresh vegetable-deprived guests, it’s bad news for the planet.

“Every year we try new things,” said Kim Ernst, the Danish chef of Roklubben restaurant, who even managed to grow a handful of strawberries that he served to some surprised Scandinavian royals. “I first came here in 1999 and no-one would have dreamed of doing this. But now the summer days seem warmer, and longer.”

Climate change deniers dismiss drought and storms as “normal” variations in Earth’s weather pattern, but tomatoes in Greenland?! Never has a phenomenon been so worthy of the term “global weirding.”

While Erst revels in the ability to keep a garden all winter long, and Greenland’s government looks for ways to boost the country’s newborn agricultural industry, climate scientists see the writing on the wall.

For several years now, scientists have pointed to America’s wildfires, ongoing severe drought, extreme weather and scorching temperatures an indication that our massive consumption of fossil fuels is affecting the planet’s climate.

The places we used to find comfortable (aka temperate zones, aka North America) are quickly becoming less so, while places we used to find harsh (aka the Arctic) are becoming surprisingly balmy. Unfortunately, you can’t just move entire nations north by a couple hundred miles and call it a day.

In a paper (PDF) titled “Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes,” published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters in March 2011, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University and Stephen Vavrus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison offered a hypothesis that may explain why world grain prices have risen 30 per cent in the past four months (and are still going up). According to the authors,†a warmer Arctic reduces the temperature gradient between the temperate and polar zones, which in turn†slows the wind speeds in the zone between the two. And like the air in a room with no windows, things heat up.

“The temperate zone has been seeing a lot of that sort of thing in the past couple of years ó much more than usual,” wrote Gwynne Dyer back in 2012. “Itís cutting deeply into food production in the major breadbaskets of the planet, such as the U.S. Midwest and southern Russia, which is why food prices are going up so fast. This was an ‘unknown unknown.’ Nobody saw it coming.”

But now we do see it. Plain as the tomatoes in Kim Ernst’s garden. And that means we’re going to do something about it, right?

 

Related Reading:

Global Warming Could Scorch America’s Breadbasket

Could Climate Change And Obesity Epidemic Be Linked

My Senator Denies Climate Change And Oklahoma Pays The Price

 

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121 comments

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9:00AM PDT on May 22, 2013

Thank you Beth, for Sharing this!

6:14AM PDT on Apr 23, 2013

Thanks for posting.

3:52AM PDT on Apr 11, 2013

See http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/ecology/greenland-is-green-again/392

"Greenland has been on the cusp of agriculture since the 16th century. Before this, agriculture was practiced by Viking settlers. Then came the “Little Ice Age” of the 16th century, wiping out Norse settlers and dooming agriculture in the region. But temperatures have been rising steadily since the 80s, and farming may soon be possible."

11:00PM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

Did you know that Greenland was so called by 11th century vikings who wanted to colonize the place and were trying to sell it to the folks back home?

In the end even they gave up and left the place. Seems they should have stuck around a bit longer. Everything comes to those who wait.

10:44PM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

Fascinating. I certainly hope that we act before it is too late.

6:54PM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

noted

1:31PM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

Thanks for

8:00AM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:38AM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

Thanks for the info!

9:27PM PDT on Apr 9, 2013

We just won't do anything about it till it is too late and then they'll throw up their hands and say "well who knew?". Stupid greedy ignorant politicians!!

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