“Climate change means culture change.” That is the message Dutch sculptor Ap Verheggen is trying to communicate via CoolEmotion, a project he co-founded with the support of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The first sculptures created by the project’s team of artists—two massive, stylized dogsled whips—were installed in March on an iceberg currently located just off the coast of Uummannaq, Greenland. This exhibition, and similar installations planned for Northern Canada and Siberia, attempt to raise public awareness of the effects climate change is having on the increasingly endangered, icy culture of the far north.
Much of the discussion about climate change has focused on the science and economics of the environmental challenge. Far less attention has been paid to how it will radically alter the lives of some isolated northern communities. (more…)
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UPDATE: This has been my most recommended (68) and commented on (29) article to date. Granted, some of the responses were from delusional climate change skeptics, but at least it’s nice to know people are reading!
Climate change could ignite wars in volatile regions
THE Matterhorn, an iconic emblem of the Alps, has two peaks: one on its Swiss side and one on its Italian side. Between them, the boundary separating the two countries traces the mountain ridge until it reaches the glacier at its base. According to a convention agreed long ago between Switzerland and Italy, the ridge of the glacier marks the border between the two countries. But the glacier is now receding, so a draft agreement has been proposed to create a new border that coincides with the ridge of the underlying rock.
The proposed change to this particular international border is unlikely to result in war. As the world warms up, however, more and more countries will need to renegotiate their boundaries. Your correspondent is concerned that a peaceful outcome is by no means assured.
Indeed, two recent reports from the Centre for Naval Analysis, an American military-research institute, suggest that border-related conflicts are a growing threat. In its report on “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change”, published in 2007, it warns that “Climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world.”
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Although I left The Nation, I have continued my role as the Noted page’s unofficial international monitor of minor elections, this time reporting the results from Greenland. On a loosely related note, the new Greenlandic PM Kuupik Kleist is on Facebook. My editor friended him.
On June 2 the incongruous forces of global warming and indigenous self-determination combined to bring the leftist Inuit Ataqatigiit Party (IA) to power in Greenland, forcing a social democratic/conservative coalition out of office on the eve of the nation’s transition to self-rule. Greenland, a semi-autonomous Arctic province of Denmark with a population of about 57,600, has been disproportionately affected by global warming, which has made large swaths of its permafrost-covered landmass increasingly accessible to oil and mineral exploration for the first time.
Emboldened by the prospect of resource-driven self-sufficiency, more than 75 percent of Greenland voters opted in November for increased devolution from Denmark, which has controlled the country since the early eighteenth century. Self-rule measures, including greater control over natural resources and a switch from Danish to Greenlandic as the national language, are due to come into effect on June 21 and will likely pave the way for a vote on full independence in the near future. In advance of Greenland’s empowerment, former Prime Minister Hans Enoksen of the social democratic Siumut Party, which had run the island since it was granted limited autonomy in 1979, called an early election because, “it seems fitting to ask the people who should lead them into that new epoch.”
Greenlanders chose to award a plurality–fourteen of thirty-one seats in the Parliament–to the pro-independence IA Party. Speaking in the capital, Nuuk, where close to a quarter of the island’s population lives, IA leader Kuupik Kleist told jubilant supporters, “Greenland deserves this.”
Click here to see the full contents of the issue in which this piece was published. (The Noted section is available to subscribers only.)
Picture credit: leszekwasilewski(via Flickr)
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