This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Greenland is Greening

On our way back from London a couple of days ago, we flew over the southern part of Greenland. To be fair, all I saw was clouds, but underneath the Arctic is melting as a result of climate change induced by billions of people using ever more energy and pumping the residue it into the atmosphere. Indeed, planes like the Boeing 777 I was flying in are big contributors to that pollution. As the ice melts, resources are being discovered and that is creating a potential political mess, as the New York Times reports today.

At stake are the Arctic’s abundant supplies of oil, gas and minerals that are, thanks to climate change, becoming newly accessible along with increasingly navigable polar shipping shortcuts. This year, China has become a far more aggressive player in this frigid field, experts say, provoking alarm among Western powers.
While the United States, Russia and several nations of the European Union have Arctic territory, China has none, and as a result, has been deploying its wealth and diplomatic clout to secure toeholds in the region.
Western nations have been particularly anxious about Chinese overtures to this poor and sparsely populated island, a self-governing state within the Kingdom of Denmark, because the retreat of its ice cap has unveiled coveted mineral deposits, including rare earth metals that are crucial for new technologies like cellphones and military guidance systems.
This is all happening at a quicker pace than expected, according to the story, because the ice is melting faster than expected. This is shaping up to be a big story among the unintended consequences of the massive increase in the number of humans over the past two hundred years.

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