Greenland is a wondrous place full of thriving biodiversity, despite being 80% covered by an ice sheet (Greenland Ice Sheet, Britannica, 2018). Animals such as polar bears, humpback whales and reindeers are a few examples of the many species living within this icy territory. And despite being the second coldest place on earth, with a lowest recorded temperature of -85 degrees Celsius, Greenland is home to over 56,000 people (Discovery Place Science, 2020).
Unfortunately, Greenland is also home to a problem that might cause its downfall – global sea-level rise. With climate change becoming an increasingly prominent issue, global warming is threatening to melt all of Greenland’s ice caps. According to NASA, Arctic sea ice is now declining at an obscenely fast rate of 13.1% per decade (Arctic Sea Ice Minimum, NASA). If the ice that blankets Greenland melted away completely, the global sea level would surge by more than 7 metres (Greenland ice loss in 2020 was below the record but above average, Climate.gov, 2020).
Power stations releasing greenhouse gases.
Global sea level rise has been on the climate change agenda for a while, but the speed at which we are attempting to combat it is not enough. Although as consumers we all play a role in global conservation, it was discovered in a 2017 study that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions (CDP Carbon Majors Reports, 2017). It is not to say that our efforts amount to nothing. On the contrary, switching to a meat-free diet and choosing more sustainable food sources reduces deforestation, saves us water and crops, and will decrease methane in our atmosphere. You could also reduce your carbon emissions through walking or taking a bike instead of a car.
However, it should be recognised that the effects of climate change are quickly becoming irreversible, and we have to tackle the biggest problem – those top 100 companies. It is no secret that these companies are neither a friend to the environment nor are their ways of running sustainable. And although a growing wave of companies are becoming more environmentally conscious, continuing to choose short-term profitability over long-term environmental impact is making it difficult to become a sustainable planet.
But what can we do to make a difference? When making lifestyle choices such as buying clothes online, or taking short flights, think about what you could change in your daily life. By buying from second-hand stores instead of online shopping, or taking a train instead of a short flight, you are impacting the demand for the product. We need to hit them where it hurts – their profits. If enough people make more environmentally conscious decisions, eventually the decrease in demand will force companies to stop producing as much, or change their means of production.
You could also write letters to companies who are top producers of global emissions, and get your friends and family to do the same – the strength is in numbers. Examples of companies to write to could include Peabody Energy, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, and ConocoPhillips, all of which are among the nine most polluting companies (Most Polluting Companies, Eco Expert). Staying informed and educating yourself are also crucial ways to have a positive impact. By informing yourself and others, our efforts will start to accumulate.
For more information, please see below:
Arctic Sea Ice Minimum, NASA: ttps://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/arctic-sea-ice/
CDP Carbon Majors Reports, 2017: The Carbon Majors Database
Discovery Place Science, 2020: Stay-at-Home Science
Greenland Ice Sheet, Britannica, 2018: Greenland Ice Sheet | ice sheet, Greenland
Greenland ice loss in 2020 was below the record but above average, Climate.gov, 2020: Greenland ice loss in 2020 was below the record but above average
Most Polluting Companies, Eco Expert:The Top 9 Most Polluting Companies