18 amazing photos of Greenland and how it's about to change.

This is probably the picture that comes to mind when someone starts to talk about Greenland.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.


Stark, pale blue glaciers. High, rocky mountains.

Greenland is a poster child of climate change.

A scientist studying layers of ice in a glacier. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

It sometimes seems like the only images we see are giant fields of ice — and maybe, if you're lucky, a scientist in snow gear plunging an indescribable instrument into a snow drift, like some sort of future explorer on a distant planet.

It's easy to talk about Greenland as if it were some alien world.

But Greenland isn't just glaciers and snow.

An aerial view of Ilulissat, Greenland. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

While it's true that about 80% of the country is covered by glaciers, many small towns and cities dot the coastlines.

More than 55,000 people call Greenland home.

Loretta Henriksen with rhubarb gathered from her garden. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

About 16,000 of them live in Nuuk, Greenland's largest city.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Nuuk is also Greenland's capital and home to the University of Greenland.

In 2013, photographer Joe Raedle went to Greenland, where he found children playing on playgrounds...

Playtime in Nuuk. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Families eating together in a cafe at a mall...

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

A young woman on a set swings...

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

And people relaxing with cups of coffee.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Out in the country, Raedle also snapped a shot of Greenlander Pilu Nielson playing with his dog near the family farm.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Nielson's family raises sheep and grows potatoes near the city of Qaqortoq.

As it turns out, Greenland can be, well, pretty green.

Trout caught in a stream near Qaqortoq. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

And climate change ... may actually be making the land greener?

Arnaq Egede walks along her family farm, the largest in Greenland. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

That's part of what Raedle went to Greenland to document: how the people are adapting to changes in their environment.

It probably doesn't come as a surprise that in recent years, Greenland has been getting a lot warmer.

Two men playing guitar in the summer sun, 2013. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

The trend was already apparent when Raedle visited in 2013, and it hasn't let up since. In, fact, in June 2016, Greenland's capital hit its highest ever recorded temperature.

How climate change is affecting Greenland is more complicated than the thermometer, though.

On the one hand, climate change has been hurting traditional hunting practices. On the other, warmer summers have extended farmers' growing season.

A supermarket in Greenland. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

While Greenland's famous glaciers have been shrinking at a record pace, that's also opened up new land to farming and mining.

A geologist looking for samples to better understand the glacial retreat. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Greenland also has rich mineral deposits, including uranium, which could bring jobs — or exploit local workers. Many people, including some in Greenland's government, are being cautious about jumping in.

But climate change's biggest effect on Greenland may be the ocean.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Almost 90% of Greenland's export economy is made up of fish and shellfish, especially cold-water shrimp. Climate change may bring new species, but it may also endanger these precious stocks.

In a perhaps bittersweet twist, Greenland is also starting to get a lot of climate change tourism.

Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.

Tourists want to see the glaciers before they're gone. In 2010, Greenland had an estimated 60,000 tourists, according to Smithsonian Magazine — that's more tourists than there are Greenlanders!

Climate change is going to change a lot in Greenland, but Greenlanders seem adaptable.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

"We're used to change," said Pilu Nielson (the farmer playing with his dog). "We learn to adapt to whatever comes."

It's easy to feel like climate change is something that'll only really matter in a hundred or a thousand years.

But these pictures show it's changing lives now, especially in Greenland.

Heroes

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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