01 May 2008

The Vikings Can Teach Us About Climate Change


Extinction was the price the Viking settlers of Greenland paid for ignoring impending climate change and failing to adapt to a changing environment. Will the same thing happen to us?

Residents of two flourishing Viking settlements between the tenth and fifteenth centuries, the Norse Greenlanders had vanished from history by about 1425. Author and amateur historian J. A. Hunsinger says the Greenlanders have much to teach us if we will only listen.

Among these lessons are:
- Be proactive. The Greenlanders probably expected the weather to improve. Instead it got worse. They did not adapt.
- Adopt a sustainable lifestyle. The Greenlanders continued European-farming practices that exhausted the land.
- Learn from others. The Tuniit, and later in the 12th century, the Inuit, indigenous inhabitants of Greenland, thrived while the Greenlanders stubbornly kept to their Old Country ways—starvation loomed.
- Prepare a fallback position. The Greenlanders’ failure to plan left them two options: either starve or attempt to find a new home across the ocean to the West.

Credentials: J. A. Hunsinger is a retired airline pilot and technical writer. He portrays Vikings in a manner relevant to modern audiences. As far back as he can remember he has felt a powerful link with his Norse ancestors and an overwhelming need to tell their story. His character-driven Axe of Iron book series are works of fiction. Axe of Iron—The Settlers, (Vinland Publishing, 2008), begins the saga.

He utilizes actual Norse archaeological discoveries and mysteries associated with the pre-historical ancestors of North American Indian tribes to substantiate his theory that the Greenland Vikings assimilated with the natives and settled in North America centuries before Columbus.

The medieval Norse Greenlanders did not linger on Greenland as the weather worsened with the coming Mini-Ice Age, most had already moved to North America by the beginning of the 14th century.


* Ad copy edited by J. A. Hunsinger, from the original by Liz Milner, RTIR

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