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Greenland firm faces criticism for glacier ice export

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-10 10:24

Tracy glacier is seen in this satellite handout image from Greenland, Sept 7, 2018, provided by Maxar Technologies on Aug 14, 2020. Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

A company in Greenland has started exporting ancient glacier ice to high-end bars in Dubai, in a venture that has attracted interest from wealthy cocktail drinkers — and criticism from environmentalists, who say it sends wrong signals about sustainability.

Arctic Ice, which harvests frozen water from fjords around the 2-million-square-kilometer autonomous Danish territory, has recently shipped its first 20-metric-ton batch of ancient ice to the United Arab Emirates, The Guardian reported.

The company, which was founded in 2022, was shocked by the wave of negative publicity that greeted the arrival of the 100,000-year-old pure Arctic ice in the sun-drenched monarchy, the paper said. Negative online comments suggested the enterprise should not be exploiting ancient ice flows that are already being devastated by the effects of global warming. Remarks included such things as "Shouldn't you be worrying about the effects of global warming, rather than selling glacier water?" and "What is this dystopia".

Malik V Rasmussen, co-founder of Arctic Ice, said people in Greenland, which is an overseas territory member of the European Union, have been using glacial ice in their drinks for generations because of the fact that it is readily available and has been compressed slowly without bubbles over millenniums and therefore melts more slowly than quickly frozen ice.

While several entrepreneurs have tried to export glacial ice in the past, Rasmussen said his venture has become the first to do so successfully. And he insists that his enterprise is not damaging to the environment.

"Helping Greenland in its green transition is actually what I believe I was brought into this world to do," Rasmussen told The Guardian.

"We do have that agenda running through the company, but we may not have communicated it well enough yet."

He said the ice the company ships is harvested from fjords around Greenland after having broken off glaciers connected to the Greenland ice sheet. He said the ice would have floated off and melted into the ocean eventually if it had not been intercepted. He insisted the refrigerated cargo ships used to export the ice would have traveled to Greenland anyway, carrying supplies, but would have left more or less empty because of the nation's lack of exports, so the shipping out of ice would not create a large carbon footprint.

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