UK second home bargain hunters; Greenland next?

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The map of Greenland will have to be redrawn. A new island has appeared off its coast, suddenly separated from the mainland by the melting of Greenland’s enormous ice sheet, a development that is being seen as the most alarming sign of global warming.

Several miles long, the island was once thought to be the tip of a peninsula halfway up Greenland’s remote east coast but a glacier joining it to the mainland has melted away completely, leaving it surrounded by sea.

The US Geological Survey has confirmed its existence with satellite photos, that show it as an integral part of the Greenland coast in 1985, but linked by only a small ice bridge in 2002, and completely separate by the summer of 2005. It is now a striking island of high peaks and rugged rocky slopes plunging steeply to a sea dotted with icebergs.

A study last year by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology showed that, rather than just melting relatively slowly, the ice sheet is showing all the signs of a mechanical break-up as glaciers slip ever faster into the ocean, aided by the “lubricant” of meltwater forming at their base. As the meltwater seeps down it lubricates the bases of the “outlet” glaciers of the ice sheet, causing them to slip down surrounding valleys towards the sea,

The creation of Warming Island appears to be entirely consistent with the disintegrating ice sheet, coming about when the glacier bridge linking it to the mainland simply disappeared. It was discovered by Mr Schmitt, a 60-year-old explorer from Berkeley, California, who has known Greenland for 40 years, during a trip he led up the remote coastline.

According to the US Geological Survey: “More islands like this may be discovered if the Greenland Ice Sheet continues to disappear.”

If the warming of Greenland continues apace don’t be surprised to find UK second home investors piling in for a bargain.

Thank you to inel for highlighting this article in The Independent.

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12 Responses to UK second home bargain hunters; Greenland next?

  1. Pete Smith says:

    Since the SE of England is looking less and less viable as a place to live, I’ve been thinking about relocation options. What do you do, move northwards as the temperatures soar? Or move south and sweat for a bit, in anticipation of a big freeze after the Gulf Stream goes away?

    I suppose the ideal plan is to buy properties in Greenland and Madeira, and stand by with your BOB packed and the jet ready to take off when the tipping point arrives.

  2. inel says:

    Mitigation is sounding a more feasible option day-by-day. Better than mass migration.

    Here’s another run at that new island story, this time in NewScientist blogs:

    A new Arctic island is born into our warming world

  3. matt says:

    Thanks earthpal. We try. Most of the time I even enjoy blogging! This environment thing, it’s just too important. πŸ™‚

  4. Pete Smith says:

    Not sure we can accept an award from someone who swears like a trooper at the drop of a hat 😎

    Seriously though, ta very much. I’d like to thank ……

    By the way, does this mean we have to find five Thinking Bloggers of our own?

  5. matt says:

    Pete, if only I had the dosh!

    Inel, I agree that it’s wrong to give up on mitigation. However, too many tipping points are being reached in the last few years alone. Tipping points by their very nature imply a point of no return. I am beginning to think aloud that adaptation must be given at least as much credence. It’s our responsibility to our children and I’d prefer not to be an environmental refugee.

  6. Pete Smith says:

    Mitigation. How is that going to help me find somewhere safe and healthy for my kids and grandkids (possibly) to live?

  7. inel says:

    I am beginning to think aloud that adaptation must be given at least as much credence.

    Oh, I agree, matt. I was taking adaptation as a given in this conversation, and was making sure mitigation was added in explicitly, to reduce the amount of adaptation necessary.

    Relocation could be a sophisticated form of migration, which is itself one form of adaptation. It is not the one to start with, but if all else fails migration can be an option.

    In reply to Pete, I would say that mitigation helps you in your quest by ensuring a wider choice of places amongst the ones you’d class as safe and healthy.

  8. matt says:

    It’s going to be interesting to see what society accepts as legitimate mitigation options. By legitimate I guess I mean worth paying for and seen (and therefore hopefully proven) to be effective. Governments are of course a huge, if not the largest agent in this process of choosing and therefore funding certain mitigation options. They either direct investment via subsidy, tax incentives or legislation.

    Off the top of my head mitigation initiatives by governments so far include;
    1. transferring over to energy saving light bulbs
    2. renewables investment
    3. biofuels investment
    4. car manufacturers designing in lower CO2 emissions
    5. increasing nuclear energy
    6. carbon capture

    As suggested in the latest Reith lecture last night, there needs to be a diversion away from war & military spending ($672billions) to even using some of that military money on sharing solutions to CC mitigation & adaptation ideas. Solutions to water shortages, forest conservation and poverty reduction are absolutely key. Otherwise the military men will get fatter on conflict (Darfur) and we’ll be moving further north.

  9. Pete Smith says:

    When you’ve done everything you can on a personal level to reduce your footprint, and things are still obviously going to hell in a handcart, you reach a point where adaptation has to become the priority.

    You will never hear me saying things like “Oh dear, the flood water is up to my waist, we’d better put more money into carbon sequestration schemes in Venezuela” or “This drought is into its third month, lets buy some more low energy light bulbs”.

    A lot of very bad things are going to happen within my lifetime, and I want to use our resources to make things as survivable as possible for my kids. If that means relocation, well, it’s something all living things try to do in the face of environmental threats. At least we’ve got a range of options. There are rare plant species being forced to move up hillsides in search of somewhere cooler who aren’t even aware they’re only twenty feet away from extinction.

  10. matt says:

    Well, I’ve got my NZ passport as an alternative to the EU one. But even down there skin cancer is the number one killer of kids thanks to a thin ozone layer. Believe me I know from experience, the burning sensation on your skin from the summer sun is scary. And only after a few minutes strolling around under the sun, not sunbathing as such.

    I’m guessing Pete that there’s not really anywhere to escape to. So adaptation within and to our local environment is what we should all be looking at (as well as mitigation!).

  11. Pete Smith says:

    Since, in general terms, ozone concentrations are lowest at the equator and highest near the poles because of seasonal stratospheric wind patterns, that’s another good reason for moving north.

    “Adaption within our local environment” may not be an option, depending on your choice of doomsday scenario. How much land can you farm (and defend) when food supplies run out? Where will you get fuel when the Russians pull the plug on their gas pipeline and our nuclear power stations are underwater?

    Be prepared, be very prepared πŸ˜€ And ‘Slip, slap, slop”.

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