Through Greenland Image

Through Greenland

By Callum Chiplin | September 15, 2020

“We’re so used to getting our way, on our terms. If our flight is delayed, we demand compensation, because it’s our right. That’s not how it works here. Here, nature calls the shots. It lays out the ground rules. Frankly speaking, I find it liberating if you can lose the stress of having a tight schedule” – Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

Gennem Grønland, or Through Greenland, is a five-episode epic adventure expedition led by Danish Game of Thrones actor and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who trades king slaying for Muskox hunting in a one-month long 2000km journey across one of the most beautiful countries on the planet to learn about the culture and heritage of 8 towns – Qaanaaq, Thule, Uummannaq, Ilulissat, Kangerlussuaq, Kulusuk, Nuuk, and Narsarsuaq, and to see the effects that climate change is having on the country as a whole and raise awareness of the global issues contributing to Greenland’s alarmingly and rapidly changing environment. 

“We humans do not control the agenda – Nature does…”

81% of Greenland is covered in ice, with 10% of the Earth’s freshwater frozen there in storage. Greenland’s 3.2km thick Ice Sheet is at a point of irreversible and accelerated melting. When spring comes, winter snow begins to melt. After about a month, 4-5cm melts away a day from three weeks of sun. Those who disregard climate change and view it as “Nothing’s changing…they should come and look for themselves.” Compare the photos, and we caused it. The climate has always changed. However, in the last 150 years or so, there has been a dramatic increase that has never been seen before. Global temperatures have risen by one-degree Celsius in an extremely short period of time in comparison with climate change in the past. We have put our coastal settlements in harm’s way, that’s why it matters. “It’s not 5 to 12 anymore. It’s 3 seconds to 12.” Be aware, understand, and reflect on your own actions. Global action is needed. Educate yourself and realise it is real. It is a fact. It is happening, and it is important to reduce your carbon footprint individually in terms of consumption patterns, the way you transport, use a bicycle if you live in the city or whenever you can. Most importantly, demand action from your political leaders. If the Ice Sheet were to completely melt, oceans would rise 7.2m, and Holland and Denmark would disappear.

Objective truths aside, the bulk of the programme is breath-taking and truly fascinating, as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is obsessed with adventure and the outdoors and is wide-eyed and truly passionate about his excursion and the people he encounters along the way. He is always asking questions and offering challenges to the information provided to him. He is always kind and considerate to everyone he meets from all walks of life—if they know him or not. Every man and woman are equal and should be treated as such, and that is what Coster-Waldau expresses as his unwavering and uncomplaining hands-on approach to nature. This setiment adds to his charisma, which sometimes lands him in potentially greenhorn territory.  Several times, he is advised to not use his hands at all as “the ice cuts like glass.” Nevertheless, it is better to do and do something wrong in order to learn than not do something at all. Audiences are compelled to watch very carefully throughout the series and listen astutely to every word as nothing that is said is said to fill a space. Everything uttered is important, as is the stoic nature of Greenlanders.

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