Greenland Sees Global Warming Firsthand (Rep. Emanuel Cleaver)

Global Warming may not yet be irreversible, but time is not on our side. Almost exactly 10 days ago, I was in Greenland on a Congressional Delegation fact-finding trip. When I returned, on the front page of the Washington Post was a picture of a harbor at Illulissat, Greenland. This is about 170 miles north of the Arctic circle. And for those who might want to go to the Washington Post Web site or if you have a Washington Post, you will see blue waters.

Now, on the surface, pardon the pun, it would appear that this is normal. However, the Greenlanders explained to our delegation, which was led by Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.), that under normal circumstances at this time of the year this area is completely frozen. In fact, they say that their ancestors at this time of the year would get on the water, which was, of course, frozen solid, and go to Canada to get lumber to bring back to build houses. And they would travel on the water that is frozen with their dogs pulling their sleighs.

Now, I went out in a boat out to an iceberg which was melting. There are 53,000 people who live in Greenland. I did not have the opportunity to speak with 53,000, but I can tell you with no fear of contradiction that every person we spoke with from Greenland spoke to us about their fear of what is happening to their native land. These are not politicians. These are not scientists. These are not college professors. All they know is that never during their lifetime have they seen the kinds of things that they are witnessing now.

For example, they speak now of the fact that their animals can actually graze longer. Now, I never saw a tree in the entire country of Greenland, but at a very short period of time during the summer grass does grow. Greenery does appear on the landscape. And what the natives are telling us, the Greenlanders, is that their animals can graze much longer today than their ancestors and the ancestors before them had ever reported. So this means that something dramatic has happened to the climate.

I was told that just 15 or 20 years ago at this time of the year people who had automobiles could drive out into the harbor and drive around to other villages along the coast of Greenland. Today, it is blue water. This is blue water.

Well, maybe to people who are reading this are thinking, “So, the water is blue around Greenland, who cares?