Posted by: Kirsten | Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Are Things Really Rotten in Denmark (Greenland)?

East coast of GreenlandWay back in the stone ages when I was a kid, all of my maps and globes had a small parenthetical “(Den.)” under the word Greenland up there at the top of the world.  Wow!  Little Denmark owned all of Greenland, which on some map projections was so HUGE!  “Look at all that land, Denmark must be like the fifth largest country in the world,” I often thought to myself.

Well, whether Denmark claims sole rights to Greenland or not isn’t the point of this article.  I just happened to be flying home from Europe this past weekend, and just happened to see “An Inconvenient Truth” on the “Al Gore Channel” playing in my hotel room while I was there, and the plane just happened to fly over Greenland on the way home, and I just happened to have seat 30F with an unobstructed view of planet earth below, and I just happened to have my camera handy as the clouds parted for the first time all day on our transatlantic flight back to the United States.

It’s amazing what we can see from way up there.  What I saw was a LOT of ice drifting away from Greenland (click on the photo for a higher resolution view).  Now whether you believe in global warming or not, and whether you think it’s a problem or not, you can’t disagree with the notion that seeing what’s happening in Greenland with your very eyes is so much more powerful than reading about it in the newspaper.  So how can you set yourself up for experiences such as this as you fly around on Thanksgiving or Christmas to visit Grandma and Grandpa?

Things to bring in your carryon luggage: Camera, check.  Binoculars, check.  A map or two, check.  And if you have one, a GPS device that shows you exactly where you are on planet earth is extremely useful if you want to identify what you’re looking at beyond the “Ooh, there’s a lake!” level of detail.

Seat reservations?  Get seats away from the wing and away from the sun if possible.  Ahead of the wing will be tough to do unless you have a bottomless bank account.  Those are the seats business travellers fight over to be first off the plane when it lands.  Yes, that means you’ll probably be behind the wing and one of the last people off the plane.  No biggie, you’re on vacation, right?  Away from the sun usually means the north side of the plane for east/west travel.  That’s the right side when you’re heading west, and the left side when you’re heading east.  For north/south travel, you’ll have to take the time of day into consideration.

Family of four?  Get two window seats rather than just one.  That’s two family members in one row and two in the next row.

The things you can learn about from way up there are endless.  Land use.  Cloud types.  Global warming.  Continental drift.   Highway construction.  Conservation. Get yourself a good seat, buckle that seat belt, and thanks for flying with Homeschool Airlines.  Ding.

— Jon

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