Melting Greenland Weighs Perils Against Potential
NARSAQ, Greenland — As icebergs in the Kayak Harbor pop and hiss while melting away, this remote Arctic town and its culture are also disappearing in a changing climate.
Narsaq’s largest employer, a shrimp factory, closed a few years ago after the crustaceans fled north to cooler water. Where once there were eight commercial fishing vessels, there is now one.
As a result, the population here, one of southern Greenland’s major towns, has been halved to 1,500 in just a decade. Suicides are up.
‘Fishing is the heart of this town,’ said Hans Kaspersen, 63, a fisherman. ‘Lots of people have lost their livelihoods.’
But even as warming temperatures are upending traditional Greenlandic life, they are also offering up intriguing new opportunities for this state of 57,000 — perhaps nowhere more so than here in Narsaq.
Vast new deposits of minerals and gems are being discovered as Greenland’s massive ice cap recedes, forming the basis of a potentially lucrative mining industry.
One of the world’s largest deposits of rare earth metals — essential for manufacturing cellphones, wind turbines and electric cars — sits just outside Narsaq.
This could be momentous for Greenland, which has long relied on half a billion dollars a year in welfare payments from Denmark, its parent state. Mining profits could help Greenland become economically self sufficient, and may someday even render it the first sovereign nation created by global warming.
What global warming??