Global warming – good for Greenland?

Why would global warming be considered ‘good for Greenland’. Read the statements below and try out the activities at the bottom of this page.

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1 Kvanefjeld in Greenland is believed to hold the sixth largest uranium deposit in the world.
2 Uranium is a radioactive heavy metal which is used in nuclear reactors to produce electricity.
3 The Greenland government recently reversed a law which prevented mining for uranium in the country.
4 China is the third biggest importer in the world. Some of its main imports are oil, mineral fuels and metal ores.
5 China has 14 nuclear power reactors in operation, more than 25 in construction and more about to start being built soon. It is aiming for a tenfold increase in its nuclear capacity by 2050.
6 The Northwest and Northeast Passages are currently frozen over for most of the year. During this time, it is impossible for ships to use these routes.
7 The Greenland economy is currently heavily dependent on exports of shrimp and fish and on a substantial subsidy from the Danish government.
8 The Northwest and Northeast Passages are shipping routes through the Arctic Circle which link Europe and North America to Asia. The Passages are much shorter than current routes through the Suez and Panama Canals, saving time and money.
9 Greenland is the 169th biggest exporter in the world (out of 222 countries). Its exports in 2008 were worth just $485 million, 82% of which was fish. In the same year it imported $867 million worth of goods.
10 Greenland is thought to be a key source of ‘rare earth minerals’ required to make mobile phones and flat screen TVs.
11 The only current mining operation in Greenland is the Nalunaq gold mine in the south of the country. The mine opened in 2004, creating jobs for local people.
12 The mining of uranium is controversial as the process can expose workers to health risks, and also because of its association with nuclear power and weaponry.
13 As a result of global warming, the area of the Arctic that becomes ice free in summer is growing, and it is staying clearer for longer.
14 There were 747 million mobile phone users in China in 2009 – more than in any other country of the world.
15 Scientists expect the Arctic to lose most of its summer ice cover by the end of this century.
16 Tourism is an area of economic growth in Greenland. Increasing numbers of cruise liners are operating from the country, taking tourists deep into the Arctic during the summer season.
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Global warming

Group work

  • Read each statement and discuss with members of your group
  • Order or group the statements according to relevance or subject matter
  • Can you think of any other reasons why global warming might be considered a good thing in Greenland?

Individual work

  • Write a counter-argument: what are the problems faced by Greenland as a result of climate change? You may need to do some research to find the answer to this.