“This weather does not belong to us. It belongs to someone else. If we don’t have ice, we are going to die.” With this prediction, an Inuit hunter sums up the dire situation for the indigenous peoples who live in northern and eastern Greenland. Nowhere on Earth, perhaps, is the evidence of climate change more apparent.
The ice that covers 80 percent of the world’s largest island is disappearing at the rate of 7 percent a year, a rate that has accelerated substantially in recent years. In some places, the ice shelf is already too thin to permit the Inuit to travel to traditional hunting grounds. The permafrost is also melting, producing a land that is boggy, unstable for buildings and difficult to cross by the traditional sleds. Worst-case scenarios predict that the carbon released by the melting permafrost could equal all the carbon already in the Earth’s atmosphere. The Inuit, who survived for centuries by hunting seals and whales, are watching their way of life disappear before their very eyes.