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29th July 2008 Charles J. Brown
06:00 am

Not So Greenland


So The New York Times Magazine had a piece this weekend about Greenland’s path to independence.  Apparently the key is global warming:

But the real promise lies in what may be found under the ice. Near the town of Uummannaq, about halfway up Greenland’s coast, retreating glaciers have uncovered pockets of lead and zinc. Gold and diamond prospectors have flooded the island’s south. Alcoa is preparing to build a large aluminum smelter. The island’s minerals are becoming more accessible even as global commodity prices are soaring. And with more than 80 percent of the land currently iced over, the hope is that the island has just begun to reveal its riches.

Offshore, where the Arctic Ocean is rapidly thawing, expectations are even higher. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that Greenland’s northeastern waters could contain 31 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and gas. On the other side of the island, the waters separating it from Canada could yield billions of barrels more. And while Greenland is still considered an oil exploration frontier, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Canada’s Husky Energy and Cairn Energy and Sweden’s PA Resources are aleady ramping up exploration.

Yes, it would be nice if Greenland were able to secure its sovereignty.  And I certainly don’t want to deny its people the chance to better their lives.

But should that come at the cost of its pristine environment?  Aren’t there “riches” that are more important than gold, lead, zinc, and oil?  Is independence really worth Greenland turning into Pollutionland?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 at 6:00 am and is filed under globalization. It is tagged under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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