President Trump made a bunch of people mad a few weeks ago (so what else is new?) when he said the United States might want to buy Greenland.
You know, Greenland. That big island up at the top of the globe. It currently is part of Denmark, and the people in Denmark went ballistic when Trump started talking about buying it. I’m not sure why they were so upset – if someone pulled up in my driveway and offered me a zillion dollars for my house, I’d think of it as a compliment. The people over there in Denmark are so busy making butter and Legos that they hardly ever think about Greenland, anyway.
At one time, there was a European community in Greenland. Erik the Red showed up in Greenland around 996 AD and started some colonies there. He ended up running a kind of land scam, telling all the folks back home in Scandinavia that Greenland was a much nicer place than Iceland. Why, just look at the names! It’s wasn’t nicer at all. In fact, it was downright inhospitable.
Still, the settlements survived until the 15th century when the little ice age messed up the crops and Europeans got bored with walrus ivory, which was a big export for the Greenlanders. The settlements mysteriously disappeared.
Here’s the part where you say, “Good, Greenland reverted back to its original owners.” Not so fast. It turns out the people who took over, known as the Thule, showed up from Alaska and Canada around the 13th century. The original Greenland inhabitants are long gone.
At any rate, Denmark snooped around and made a claim on Greenland in the 17th century and ended up owning it, mainly because no one else was watching. During World War II, we ran things after the Nazis took over Denmark and we built a huge air force base way up there near the top of Greenland, which happens to be conveniently close to Russia.
So, outside of annoying Russians, why are we interested in Greenland?
Well, for one thing we’re a greedy bunch of people always looking for a good real estate deal. Beyond that, global warming is changing things. It’s making the Arctic much more accessible. It’s making Greenland, which basically is a big sheet of ice with a few green spots on the edges, much more attractive. And why not? That whole Alaska thing turned out pretty well.
Greenland is a really big place, and Denmark certainly isn’t doing much to develop it. There are only 57,000 people living there – that’s a little bit less than Troy, Piqua and Tipp City combined. Greenland’s capital, Nuuk (what a great name!) is home to just 16,000 people, which makes it slightly larger than Vandalia. And the place is gigantic – Greenland is three times the size of Texas.
We could mark off all kinds of space for conservation and wildlife and still have lots of areas where we could put up resorts, extract minerals and basically do the American thing. Vacation in Kangerlussuaq or Qaqortoq! Cruise to Narsaq! The possibilities aren’t endless, but there are a few. All those Q’s might have to go, though.
I don’t suppose it ever will happen. We tried to acquire Canada by hook or crook for a long time, and that never happened. We can hardly even take care of Puerto Rico, which is just a tiny little island where it never snows. Greenland would be a much bigger challenge.
So to the (few) people of Greenland: I hope you live long and happily and find peace and contentment amidst the ice and walruses. As the Earth gets warmer, you may find yourself sitting on some great real estate – all those people in Florida will have to go somewhere in the summer to escape the heat. May you have better luck than Erik the Red.
On the other hand, if you ever think about selling, you have our number …
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.