Monday, April 1, 2013

Agricultural Bounty in Greenland, of All Places

No this is not an April Fool's joke.

Greenland, that huge block of ice up in the Arctic northeast of Canada, is not such a block of ice anymore.

Global warming has hit there with more power than points south, so Greenland is now an agricultural producer of such items as potatoes, thyme, tomatoes, green peppers, and even a few strawberries, according to Scientific American.

Says the magazine, quoting a restaurant chef up there:

"Things are growing quicker," said Kim Ernst, the Danish chef of Roklubben restaurant, nestled by a frozen lake near a former Cold War-era U.S. military base.

"Every year we try new things,: said Ernst, 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 day seem warmer, and longer."

So, I guess there are some benefits to global warming. Yes, in a worst case scenario, we end up with inundated coastal cities, droughts, famine, wars over increasingly scarce resources and extreme storms that make today's tempests seem like a pleasant April shower.
These delicious looking strawberries are from Greenland 

But at least we'll have a nice supply of luscious strawberries from Greenland.

Not just strawberries. But all kinds of other stuff. And increasingly, plenty to go around. From the Scientific American article:

"There are now huge areas in southern Greenland where you can grow things," said Josephine Nymand, a scientist at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources in Nuuk. "Potatoes have most benefitted. Also, cabbage has been very successful."

Sten Eric Langstrup Pedersen, who runs an organic farm in a fjord near Nuuk, first grew potatoes in 1976. Now he can plant crops two weeks earlier in May and harvest three weeks later in October compared with more than a decade ago."

Bonus: Greenland need not worry about irrigating its new croplands. Oddly, dry weather has put a crimp in some crop growth in recent summers. But all those melting glaciers would provide plenty of water to keep that greenery growing, if they put in irrigation systems.. That ice sheet is going to be around for awhile. It's melting, but it's immense, and tens of thousand of feet thick, and would be relatively stable even if global warming intensifies.

Then again, that melting ice can be troublesome. That restaurant we talked about at the beginning of this post? The glaciers melted so fast last summer that meltwater caused a big flood that took out a bridge, which cut the restaurant off from the airport. So during tourist season in Greenland, nobody could get to the restaurant.

Even for its few beneficiaries, I guess climate change can be troublesome.

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