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Science News: Greenland abandons the search for fossil fuels

– G.A., Senior Editor

Beginning at the end of the 19th century and extending throughout the entire 20th century, humans extracted immense volumes of oil and gas from the Earth’s crust. Governments launched frantic searches for oil fields that could be used to power national economies and also fill government coffers through the sale of oil and gas to non-producing nations. Finding and tapping hidden reserves was seen to be part of the responsibility of any well-meaning government.

As the world faces growing uncertainty about Earth’s future climate, and the necessary move away from fossil fuels becomes more urgent, governments are starting to abandon their long-maintained pattern of searching for and extracting any and all fossil fuels at their disposal. Despite the possibility that large quantities of oil are located in northeastern Greenland [Link1], the government of Greenland announced in July that, after decades of effort to establish an oil and gas industry in the country, it will no longer issue licenses for oil and gas exploration..

The Greenland government’s announcement specifically emphasizes the impact that oil and gas exploration and utilization have on the environment and our climate. Furthermore, the announcement highlights the need to focus on investing in renewable energy.

Although Greenland has a small population and is not considered a major world power, the decision of one government to proactively turn its economy to renewable energy could encourage other governments to consider similar approaches. If governments can demonstrate to businesses that long-maintained patterns can be changed and good outcomes can be obtained, resistance to the adoption of renewable energy could be weakened.

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