Game of Thrones actor shows the impacts of climate change on his homeland
The image above isn’t from the scene where Jaime Lannister wakes up in 21st-century Winterfell and realises it was all a dream – although that would be an incredibly bad twist, if you’re reading, George. No, it’s from actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s actual “second home” in Greenland, a semi-autonomous territory within Denmark.
Coster-Waldau, a UN Goodwill Ambassador, has been helping Google by providing panoramic vistas of Greenland’s rapidly melting ice via a 360-degree Trekker camera.
“Statistics, scientific reports and graphs can be bewildering,” Coster-Waldau wrote in a blog post, “but I hope seeing these images will help people understand the drastic changes taking place in Greenland, and inspire you to fall in love with it the way I have.”
“Unless we change these climate trends, the next time we bring the trekker to Greenland the landscape may be unrecognisable from the one you see today.”
That may sound overly dramatic, (or “FAKE NEWS” as our new climate-change denier-in-chief would no doubt call it), but the evidence is pretty clear. To help underline the point, here’s a timelapse created by Google demonstrating exactly how much of Greenland’s ice has vanished in my lifetime:
We know that 2016 was the hottest year on record, and 2015 was the hottest before that. It would be a brave person to suggest that 2017 will buck that trend. What happens to Greenland may appear to be a local issue, which you could selfishly argue is relevant only to the region’s 56,500 population, but it actually impacts us all. If all of Greenland’s ice were to melt, you’re looking at a global sea rise of 20 feet. Here’s what that looks like on a map of the UK:
While that’s not going to happen in the short term, there’s a bad-news chaser to that shot of bad news. Underneath Greenland’s ice sheet is a whole bunch of toxic waste from a Cold War-era military camp. It really is in our collective interests to keep Greenland chilly.
“The climate is changing, but we can do something about. We have the technology, we have the brilliant minds. But we need the will, and it’s really the will of the people, because at the end of the day, we are the ones to decide,” Coster-Waldau says at the end of the video.
He’s right, of course, but things have never looked so shaky. At least 62,979,879 of the people Coster-Waldau hopes will do the right thing voted to put a climate-change sceptic in the White House. It doesn’t matter whether climate change was their deciding factor or not: a casual disregard for the fate of the planet clearly wasn’t a deal-breaker for them, given Trump was hardly hiding his views before the election. You can’t say you weren’t warned. Unfortunately, when it comes to climate-change progress, it’s often one step forward and two steps back. And worryingly close to two degrees warmer, of course.