Greenland: Shoot the Dogs, Drill for Oil
The old hunter was troubled by the foreigners encroaching on his Inuit people’s frozen lands.
“The Inuit say that they are going to heat the `siku’ (the sea ice) to make it melt. There will be almost no more winter,” the elder says of the southerners in Jean Malaurie’s “Last Kings of Thule,” the French explorer’s classic account of a year in the Arctic.
The year was 1951. A lifetime later, another Inuit hunter looks out at Disko Bay from this island’s rocky fringe and remembers driving his dogsled team over the solid glitter of the siku all the way to Ilulissat, a town 90 kilometers (55 miles) across the water.
“The ice then was 1 to 2 meters thick,” Jakob Jensen, 65, recalled of those winters past.
“Now, it’s a few centimeters. It’s very thin and you can’t go on dogsled.”
The winter sea ice that defined Greenlander life for millennia is melting, and it’s the southerners who did it, as Malaurie’s Inuit foretold long before science showed industrial emissions were warming the planet.
The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, and “Greenland is experiencing some of the most severe environmental impacts,” social researcher Lene Kielsen Holm concludes in a preliminary report on a north-to-south survey of Greenlanders.
Those impacts are broad and deep.