GROENLAND – The dilemma of ice
« The dilemma of ice » story is part of the project Humans&Climate Change Stories (www.humansclimatechange.com), which aims to provide a documentary approach to the effects of climate change on our lives. We are following 12 families scattered around the globe, who are subject to different types of climate change phenomena, over the course of the next 10 years. Through their stories, we will gain a better understanding of the effects of climate change on our daily lives, and our capacity for resilience. It also puts the social, economic and political forces that have an impact on environmental phenomena into perspective.
The project offers an immersive multimedia form of storytelling. Humans&Climate Change Stories is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the International Organization for Migrations (IOM), and the Greens – European Free Alliance (Verts-ALE) in the European Parliament.
Long ignored, the Arctic has become an important geopolitical space. The melting ice has sparked competition and speculation around important mineral resources – including rare earth and uranium – hydrocarbons, as well as around new commercial shipping routes. Greenland, eager to overcome its economic – and ultimately political – dependence vis-à-vis Denmark, is today faced with a dilemma: the exploitation of resources that are challenging to harvest versus the preservation of its environment which is central to all Inuit culture.
In the face of a new global context and the risky investments that offshore exploitation represents, three major oil companies abandoned their exploration licenses in 2016. Greenland is thus basing its hopes on the fishing sector, which accounts for 90% of its exports, and is the main livelihood of the rural population.
Melting ice, accelerated by global warming, is now flowing into the ocean for nearly 8 months during the year versus 5 months ago 20 years ago. The government and private fishing companies are offering fishermen the ability to outfit themselves with ever more modern equipment. This increases the risk of encouraging intensive fishing while at the same time climate change is having a major impact on the abundance of fish. It also leads to a risk of dangerous dependence on the part of the fishermen who have few opportunities to covert to other professions. Some are already over-indebted and cannot survive more than one or two bad seasons.
In 2016, the state-owned company Royal Greenland posted a record profit of 954 million euros. The fish are primarily exported to American, Asian and European markets whose demand has doubled in 25 years