Greenland ice loss soars: Bad for you, great for bottled water biz

greenland_ice_melting.jpgA new study in Geophysical Research Letters (subs. req’d) led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory finds:

… the ice sheet was losing 110 ± 70 Gt/yr [billion tons/year] in the 1960s, 30 ± 50 Gt/yr or near balance in the 1970s–1980s, and 97 ± 47 Gt/yr in 1996 increasing rapidly to 267 ± 38 Gt/yr in 2007.

How much is 267 billion metric tons of water? It’s enough to supply the city of Los Angeles with fresh water for more than 50 years. Hmm. That gives me — or at least the Greenland Home Rule government — an idea.

Yes, why should all that water only go to submerging the great coastal cities of the world when (a tiny fraction of) it could go to slaking the thirst of all the people who live in the great cities of the world that don’t get submerged.

in Greenland, a consultant named Dorthe Lund Kaack told the Danish Berlinske Tidende newspaper that next spring Greenland Home Rule government would begin bottling water from an island spring, and thereafter drilling it out of icebergs floating near the coast, for export to fancy water markets (Los Angeles, Tokyo said the article). The government stressed that production of this 3 to 10,000-year old water was “sustainable.”

Well it’s certainly “sustainable” over the several hundred years it will take the ice sheet to melt. And with global warming poised to spread disease throughout our water supply and melt the inland glaciers that supply water to a billion people and desertify one third the planet, well, that’s even better than sustainable for the would-be Greenland bottlers. That’s a growth market.

Still, Treehugger notes “Iceberg water is not entirely new”:

Berg (ha ha), a company in Newfoundland, bottles Arctic water from icebers off the coast and sells it for a very pretty penny – nearly $100 for 24 half-liter bottles. And 10 Thousand BC “luxury glacier water” comes from (the company says) 10,000-year-old ice from glaciers (for fewer pollutants). Watch this Forbes slide show of the world’s most expensive waters to see how ridiculous it can get.

Zaproot’s hip and zippy video take on this is here.

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17 Responses to Greenland ice loss soars: Bad for you, great for bottled water biz

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Several hundred years to melt?

    Yes, about 30 centuries or so.

  2. Joe says:

    On our current emissions trend, it’ll be mostly gone in several hundred years.

    The 30 centuries is for meling-based models at 550 ppm, not ice dynamic models at 1000 ppm.

  3. Dill Weed says:


    He’s back….

    An open letter from The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley to Senator John McCain about Climate Science and Policy

    Too bad he’s courting the wrong candidate

  4. Rick says:

    Monckton brought peer reviewed science paper claims to the table for that long letter that I can’t talk myself into reading yet.

    I’d take him more seriously if it wasn’t for the school girl skirt he’s wearing and the fact he calls himself “The Viscount”

  5. David B. Benson says:

    Joe Romm — Yes.

  6. Brewster says:

    I’ve been watching the tipping points from various reports starting to cascade, and by my admittedly amateurish approximations, I’d advise the Greenlanders to take advantage of this while they can – If they get 100 years of water, I’ll be amazed.

    Just my observations – I’m very aware that my noodling would not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

  7. Kathy says:

    Hello everyone!

    I was wondering if anyone could point me to a site that addresses climate change for newbies? Specifically one that presents a claim, the counterclaim, and then the counter-counterclaim if that makes any sense? Basically, if there are myths, then a site that debunks those myths. I’m asking because I’m getting quite confused now, what with all the articles like this one (, presenting all manner of graphs and data arguing against global warming. I know that data can be manipulated to so that the whole story isn’t presented, which is why I was hoping there was some resource out there that sets the record straight? I tried looking on this site, but couldn’t find anything. The stuff you guys are talking about seem a bit over my head. :) I also read the articles from New Scientist, but they didn’t quite cover things in the detail I would like.

    Thanks in advance!

  8. ED says:

    Joseph, you wrote: “The misconception that the planet stopped warming in 1998 stems more from our limited number of temperature stations in the Arctic than from any genuine trend.” on Grist. Please for the love of mercy don’t perpetuate the myth that HAD it been true that 1998 was the warmest year to date, then it Would have meant “the planet stopped warming in 1998” that is exactly what your statement is perpetuating, that myth, so you’re helping the “there’s no global warming” crowd, please please be more careful withyour words given how many readers you have.

    Say something like “The misconception that the planet stopped warming in 1998 stems from Both our limited number of…And from a gross misunderstanding of the difference between ‘the record hasn’t been broken’ and ‘the trend is no warming'” or something like that. Please, the Earth’s future depends on not accidentally helping the liars..thank you for listening and for your work.

  9. john says:


    For starters, this site is good; Joe’s Book is great. is good.

    My advice is to pay attention to information from peer-reviewed articles, the IPCC, and to watch who funded any study or organization making climate claims.

    Peer-reviews assure that the claims in an article were subject to rigorous scrutiny.

    There’s a lot of pure crap out there — people like Lomborg, pielke et. al., who make assertions and out of context claims.

    Don’t be confused by claims and counter claims. At the end of the day, there is very little disagreement within the scientific community about this issue. And science is really the only way we have of investigating GW. Peer-reviews keep the science honest, and of a high quality.

    You don’t have to read the arcane journals themselves, but you should see what the popular press is basing their stories and claims on — if it’s opinions — well, as the old saying goes, opinions are like *** holes — everyone’s got one. If, however, they’re quoting a peer-reviewed study or a scientist who frequently produces them, then it’s credible.

    And of course, if the person belongs to an organization that gets most of its funding from an oil company, coal company or utility, well — I wouldn’t pay any attention to anything they say or write.

  10. Ned Raynolds says:

    I heartily agree with the recommendation above of the site “”
    Also, if you’re open to other media, I’d recommend a book recently published called “Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming” subtitle “An Illustrated Guide to the Findings of the IPCC” by Michael Mann and Lee R. Kump. It’s on Amazon for $16.50. Both are distinguished scientists associated w/Penn State’s Earth Systems Science Center; Mann has been a lead author and reviewer for the IPCC’s Assessment Reports.

  11. mauri pelto says:

    Without standing on the Greenland Ice Sheet it is hard to the scale. I work on three different scales of glaciers. North Cascades small glaciers average one mile long. Even these small glaciers will generally take 50-100 years to disappear with the current climate or modest warming. Alaskan icefields, these glaciers will take even longer to disappear and will need much more warming before they do. GIS amazing size, even with dynamic thinning leading the way this ice sheet will not come close to disappearing even in several centuries. This is despite my recent article posted at RealClimate indicating the amazingly synchronous nature of retreat, acceleration and thinning.

  12. Richard says:


    All of the above suggestions are great. I love this blog, and Joe is both prolific and insightful.

    And in a blatant attempt at self-promotion, I assembled a series of links that help you get answers to some myths from sites like Grist and New Scientist:

    Also see astroturfing… how big companies invented a new system of guerilla marketing to muddy the waters. It begins with the tobacco companies..

  13. Sasparilla says:

    They should name the bottled water – Global Warming…I bet it would sell like crazy.

  14. paulm says:

    Kathy, Joe actually commented on this article here…

    Skeptics, unite!…

    I thought this was a very cheeky attempt by National Post to confuse everyone. Not very responsible.

    Here are some sites that might help…

    Good site which is very comprehensive and accessible is..and it has all the links in to more detail.
    The Discovery of Global Warming

    For graphs to give an overview see…

    This site may be a bit mathematical but the graphs say it all…

    For beginners at realclimate start here…

    New Scientist has a lot on this…don’t know if you read this article…
    Climate change: A guide for the perplexed

    Reliable Climate change details from UK…

    Scientific_consensus_on_global_warming…list of scientific groups with statements on climate change.

  15. Rick C says:


    I third John and Ned Raynold’s recommendations on starting with Joe’s book Hell and Highwater which I eagerly read and There’s a beginners section at I would add another valuable resource created by our friends in Canada and their site is called They have a very valuable denier database at If you here someone disputing the science of global warming you can type in their name and see if they have been bought by the oil, gas or coal industry. (Hint: many of these deniers, but not all, disputed the scientific evidence that linked tobacco to lung cancer and were working on behalf of the tobacco producer Philip-Morris.)

  16. David B. Benson says:

    Kathy — Weart’s “The Discovery of Global Warming” receives my recommendation. You might also like

  17. Kathy says:

    Wow! Thanks everyone! I really appreciate your taking the time out to help me. I’ll definitely check out all of those resources, one by one. :)