Ambivilance is how I greeted the news that Air Greenland will soon start direct flights between the U.S. and Greenland. The Greenland ice shelf, which covers nearly all of the country, apart from a thin strip around the edge, is melting’fast. Global warming is fingered as the culprit. Sea levels will rise precipitously as a result of this and other polar melting. Would visiting Greenland, as have many U.S. political leaders (including those running for something)make people take global warming more seriously and commit to taking whatever action they can to arrest it? There’s a good chance it would. But then again, there’s something odd about travelling by plane’fueling global warming through the emissions’to a place that’s already feeling the effects of climate change in no uncertain terms. Emissions vs. awareness. Income for Greenland vs. more CO2 in the air.
It’s hard to say where I come down, especially since I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Greenland (via Denmark). It’s stark, startling, and beautiful in a way I’ve never seen elsewhere (particularly from the air’a veritable desert in ice unfolds below’and on the water). I was there for work on an indigenous rights project, attending a session of the International Training Center of Indigenous Peoples, not climate tourism (Greenland is semi-autonomous of Denmark and has an indigenous-run government…and only about 30,000 residents). But still, my travel there and back registers on the climate counter. Greenland is poor, particularly when compared with tiny, tidy, very modern Denmark. It could use more tourist dollars, and more people concerned about the future of its land, oceans and people. What to do? Perhaps get the remaining climate skeptics in positions of power on that Air Greenland flight: Monday and Thursday from Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport.