“Uggianaqtuq. We’re Going Climate Bonkers:” – Guardian
The Guardian has no less than three articles out this week claiming that climate change is driving us doo-lally, with headlines like: “Mental health at the heart of the climate crisis” “Ecological grief” and “How the climate emergency could lead to a mental health crisis”
The articles report “increasing social anxiety and trauma… connected to the climate crisis,”“unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety to people… who are struggling to reconcile the traumatic impact of global heating to their traditional way of life,”and claim that “the intersection between the climate emergency and mental and physical health will become one of the world’s major issues.” They ask: “How long will it be before political systems collapse and we turn against one another in a frenzy for the last scraps of sustenance?”
So far, so utterly, predictably Guardian. What’s slightly odd is that all three articles are based on one public opinion survey – conducted in Greenland.
The survey is available in English (and also in Greenlandic) here. By chance the Guardian also has an article this week on how to assess whether opinion polls are trustworthy. It recommends only trusting polls with a sample size of a thousand or more (The Greenland poll has a sample of 646) and checking that the questions were put in an unbiassed fashion. This might prove difficult. Did the questions concern “global warming”and “climate change,”or, as the Guardian articles – following Guardian style rules – call it, “global heating”and “climate crisis”? Since the interviews were either in Danish, Kalaallisut or Tunumiitoraasiat, we may never know.
Cultural factors no doubt played a part. One Guardian article reports the difficulties the journalist had in interviewing a Greenlander:
An interview with Rassmussen proves more emotional than anticipated… his face is contorted. Instead of the Greenlandic way – long silences and monosyllabic answers – there comes an outpouring…
As a former market researcher I know the problems caused by outpourings. And the long silences must have been a problem too, given that the interviewers had to be shipped round Greenland by plane. One imagines flights are not frequent between settlements averaging a few hundred people.
Monosyllabic answers are what we researchers like best, though the examples of Greenlandic given in the Guardian articles suggest that monosyllables are in short supply, which is not surprising, given that, according to Wikipedia, “Greenlandic is a polysynthetic language that allows the creation of long words by stringing together roots and suffixes.” One of theGuardian articles gives an example:
The north Baffin Inuit have the word “uggianaqtuq”to describe the unpleasant feeling caused by a friend behaving strangely, or even a sense of homesickness experienced when one is actually at home.
I know just how the north Baffin Inuit feel. The left-of-centre Guardian used to be home to me, and to thousands like me, who wanted to believe in a rational leftwing alternative to rampant capitalist greed and selfishness. For years now it’s been a friend behaving strangely. “A sense of homesickness experienced when one is actually at home”is exactly my feeling. I haven’t moved. The world has moved under me.
According to the Guardian‘s report on the Greenland survey, 79% of respondents think that the local sea ice has become more dangerous to travel on (which is hardly surprising, given that it’s been a particularly warm summer.)
Many of the ice fishermen we met were teaching their children to float if they fall through the water, their limbs jutting out in a star shape. The frozen sea is now a threat.”
One hopes that teaching their children to float didn’t start with current global heating. Whatever the sea temperature, there’s always a bit of the ice that’s less thick than average, just as there’s always a part of the readership of the mainstream media that’s less thick than the average. Do Guardian journalists understand this?
Even the sound of Greenland is changing. Villages once echoed to the howl of sled dogs, but hunters are now turning to desperate measures to keep their family’s heads above water.
(That’s figuratively above water, not necessarily in a star shape. And one sympathises with the villagers who no longer have to listen to howling dogs.) Mr Rassmussen‘s outpouring was about one of the main problems associated with global warming: 67% of residents think that the climate crisis will harm sled dogs.
Claus Rassmussen is stirring a foul brew of oily blood and fish. “Seal stew,” the sled-dog hunter says. Strung out in a row, his family carry buckets of the murky soup to feed to the dogs – a nightly ritual for Rassmussen and his five daughters.
Over the past two decades, Greenland’s sled dog population has halved to around 15,000 with the numbers still falling. Greenland’s unique sled dog culture and the specialised training technology and knowledge is in danger of disappearing… he talks about the decision to kill his beloved dogs because he could no longer afford to feed them…
“It’s all about money. Unlike dogs, snowmobiles do not need to be raised or fed. We have vet bills. Our dogs are exposed to infectious diseases. The industrial fish waste we once used as dog food is now exported for human consumption. We can’t afford to go on and I worry that I am raising these new dogs only to have them shot again.”
Buried in these three articles is the information you need to interpret them. The internal combustion engine in the form of the snowmobile is killing the sled dog, just as it killed the horse as the prime means of locomotion in the rest of the world a century ago. That and the fact that arctic food waste once only suitable for dog food is now filling our fishfingers, and the dogs are reduced to eating seal stew, “a foul brew of oily blood and fish.”
(Hang on. What have huskies ever eaten but seal, blood and fish?)
As we walk to feed his new crop of huskies, a neighbour runs up to Rassmussen and hands over a bloodied plastic bag of discarded halibut. It is accepted not with thanks, but an understanding that everyone in the community must play a part in the preservation of a way of life.
A way of life which now depends, even if ever so slightly, on the humble plastic bag. One cheer for this handy derivative of fossil fuels.
I could go on, because these three articles, like all articles in the Western media about far away places, are a parody of themselves, and you only have to quote them to raise a cheap laugh at their utter vacuity and ineptitude. I’ve done it before, with respect to Vivienne Westwood in Peru and Richard Branson in the Virgin Islands.
It’s fun, but ultimately pointless. The problem lies deeper.
When Western nations owned, despoiled and pillaged ninety percent of the earth’s surface, they also tried to understand it. (After all, understanding might make for more efficient pillaging.) This gave us the London metal market, the Antwerp diamond trade, but also travel literature, anthropology, and the earth and social sciences – the Voyage of the Beagle and Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
Once Peter Cook, Vivian Stanshall and Monty Python discovered that the British Empire (and a fortiori, all engagement by white males in the world outside Europe and North America) was a subject of eternal amusement, it became horribly unfashionable to display any interest in cultures outside – first NW and SW London – then extended to the chic-er parts of Europe (Paris, Prague, Barcelona – which were chic because London NW3 and SW1 said so.)
In the Guardian New World Order, the only way to engage with the world (which in the days of the Empire, in the utterly politically incorrect writings of Kipling, TE Lawrence, Robert Byron, Peter Fleming, William Dalrymple, and Bruce Chatwyn, was a world peopled by peoples– weird, wildly different, but all uniquely fascinating) is by treating it as a planet, which just happens to be infested by some yucky thing called homo sapiens. And planets are dodgy things, as any fule brought up on Star Wars kno. Best to zap them.
But let’s get back to the survey:
According to the data, detailed in a Guardian investigation carried out across Greenland in the last month, the majority of local residents interviewed believe that the climate emergency will harm its people, sled dogs, plants and animals. The revelation contradicts arguments that local people believe climate breakdown will benefit the Arctic and raises concern over a growing mental health crisis around climate in the polar region.
“..the majority of local residents interviewed believe that the climate emergency will harm its people, sled dogs, plants and animals.”Well, maybe. Or maybe they’ve learned that the Paris Agreement has promised to lavish a hundred billion dollars a year on countries suffering from climate change, and that the climate-concerned countries and their complicit media just love piddling insignificant countries with the population of an average English village because they can pour their largesse on them at near zero cost. If, as the Guardian articles reveal, the country in question also happens to be suffering from huge levels of alcoholism and suicide, so much the better for the three Guardian articles – all intended to make us wet ourselves about melting glaciers. How did the researchers deal with potential informants in far flung settlements who turned out to have topped themselves, or to be in an ethylitic coma? Did that explain the “long silences and monosyllabic answers”? (something I suffer from myself from time to time.)
But what did the inhabitants of Greenland (all fifty thousand of them) actually feel about global warming/heating/Guardian-defined-attack-of-the-vapours? Here’s the facts, as reported by the PhD student who actually did the study:
40% think that climate change is a bad thing
11% think it is a good thing
46% think that climate change is neither bad nor good
You read that right. 57% of suicidal, alcoholic, husky-loving Greenlanders don’t thing that climate change is a bad thing. Maybe they’ve got bigger things to worry about.
And as for the “different emotions when they think about climate change”:
The Greenlanders are convinced that global sizzling and climate oh-my-god-I-have-to-lie-down-on-the-site-of-the-Heathrow-third-runway is killing their sled dogs, despite the fact that they’re selling their dogs’ breakfast to Findus, yet they’re more likely to be hopeful than afraid, more likely to be happy than sad. What a dozy, irrational bunch of twerps.
Just like the rest of us, really.
Geoff, thank you for this paragraph:
“I know just how the north Baffin Inuit feel. The left-of-centre Guardian used to be home to me, and to thousands like me, who wanted to believe in a rational leftwing alternative to rampant capitalist greed and selfishness. For years now it’s been a friend behaving strangely. “A sense of homesickness experienced when one is actually at home”is exactly my feeling. I haven’t moved. The world has moved under me.”
My sentiments exactly! I used to buy the Guardian every day. No longer. I still visit its website most days, and now find myself regularly shaking my head in disbelief. Maybe I’ve changed, but the Guardian has definitely changed much more, and it’s not for the better, IMO.
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The Guardian actually hits on the reality of what “man-made climate change” is actually caused by.
The reason for the Guardian publishing three articles making claims of a global mental health crisis, all based on one opinion poll by a PhD student at the University of Greenland, is presumably to cash in on the Great Greenland Melt story. Paul Homewood has debunked this one (again) at
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Well now that the UK has had a more “traditional” wetter Summer (despite the single hyped hot days)
I hope people will wake up and realise all the headlines really do not have anything to do with the weather but are there to scare populations into paying more tax for flawed energy policies plus whatever else they want to spend it on. CO2 is the signature of life and climate on Earth not the driver.
No (more) fish fingers for Guardian readers then 😐
Whilst using a English-Greenlandic on-line dictionary I made a discovery that proves Greenlanders are far from being mentally challanged. The dictionary failed to find a translation for what I was looking for but volunteered the following: panik means daughter. Nuff said.
There would seem to be a global mental health crisis amongst many climate scientists:
“The very foundation of human civilization is at stake. Increasingly after my speaking events, I catch myself unexpectedly weeping in my hotel room or on flights home. Every now and then, the reality of what the science is saying manages to thaw the emotionally frozen part of myself I need to maintain to do my job. In those moments, what surfaces is pure grief … But these days my grief is rapidly being superseded by rage. Volcanically explosive rage.”
And then of course there is the delightful Kate: https://onbeing.org/blog/kate-marvel-we-need-courage-not-hope-to-face-climate-change/
“We are inevitably sending our children to live on an unfamiliar planet. But the opposite of hope is not despair. It is grief. Even while resolving to limit the damage, we can mourn. And here, the sheer scale of the problem provides a perverse comfort: we are in this together. The swiftness of the change, its scale and inevitability, binds us into one, broken hearts trapped together under a warming atmosphere.
“To be a climate scientist is to be an active participant in a slow-motion horror story. These are scary tales to tell children around the campfire.
The moral of this fable is murkier than the simplicity a children’s tale demands. At the end of the story, the fear persists. We continue to burn fossil fuels and the gases they make continue to trap heat, warming the air, the land, the shallow seas. The heat is mixed deep into the ocean, a long slow slog to equilibrium. There is no way to stop it.
What do I tell my son? A monster awaits in the deep, and someday it will come for you. We know this. We put it there.”
Kate Marvel sounds like a terrible mother, commiting a spiritual Munchausen by proxy on her children.
“What’s slightly odd is that all three articles are based on one public opinion survey”
The Guardian learns well from the BBC approach to “public opinion survey” (or visa versa).
they present it to the viewer/reader as a everyman/woman unbiased survey, when you just know they only highlight the comments/results that suits the agenda that they want to promote.
the BEEB are masters of this art.
ps – know I sound anti beeb (I pay for them) but the bias in every so called factual output lately over the last 10yr? is so obvious I have to vent somewhere.
Thanks so much for this Geoff. A beautifully written piece.
I have just finished reading an article in the Guardian Weekly on migrants from Central America. Apparently when subsistence farming fails due to drought, the climate emergency is the problem not recognizing that subsistence farming was always susceptible to recurring droughts.
It’s basically reporting by anecdote not unlike, say the journalism practiced by the UK Sun newspaper. The Sun provides juicy anecdotes on sex scandals and murders to keep their readers happy. The Guardian is in the same business except their juicy anecdotes are on crops failing, (as if they never did before) water supplies drying up (because of inadequate infrastructure with increasing populations) and floods happening ( as they always have). They would be the last to admit that they are simply keeping their readers happy (except Geoff) by feeding them selective and anecdotal information.
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Ponder the fate of Greenlander kinder
trying to sculpt angels
in melted snow,
now stars all at sea
and no dog stars
We continue to burn fossil fuels and the gases they make continue to trap heat
But that’s a physical impossibility – gases can’t trap anything, so we’re saved – hurrah! 😆
I just found your site via Barth’s Notes, Hoaxted and The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories, where I saw a comment of yours in an article about climate deniers. (I had set out looking for some sane commentary on the Epstein witch hunt.) AGW is clearly yet another collective fantasy, or one face of the vast collective fantasy known as political correctness. My knowledge of the subject comprises mainly Christopher Booker, Donna Laframboise and bits and pieces such as Richard Tol’s scornful Guardian articles about ‘the Cook Study’.
From my perspective it is not that global warming is driving people out of their minds but rather that they believe in it because they have already lost them.
Greenland. A kip if there ever was one, I’d say. I saw a short clip on the Iceland news (don’t ask) about an election they had there probably last year. The winning candidates were giving each other very long drawn-out, very demonstrative hugs throughout the entire report although I did not see any noses being rubbed. It was very odd.
I came across an interesting video on YouTube, subtitled in English, on a Dutch channel called Café Weltschmerz. It was an interview with a Marcel Crok called Het Raadsel Van De Verdewenen Hittegolven (the mystery of the vanishing heat waves). I don’t know if you are aware of it. I did not include a link in case it blocked my comment. The Dutch Met Office recently recalculated the fifty years worth of temperature measurements at their main weather station up to 1950-51, which was when they changed the measuring apparatus. They had to apply a bit of statistical ‘homogenization’ and sundry dodgy practices, of course, and guess what? The high temperatures for the early period were revised downward and most of the heat waves for that period disappeared accordingly (just like the Mediaeval Warm Period also vanished). There had been more of them in that first half a century than in the subsequent 67 years but that is all changed now and we can see that the rate of heat waves is increasing, because of global warming!
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Apparently Trump has been thinking about buying Greenland
So Denmark (and therefore the European Union, and therefore the countries who pay the most into the EU budget, like Germany and the UK) is already providing two thirds of the budget, and they can’t even top it up with a few cans of Pedigree Chum for Mr Rassmussen’s dogs?
The only possible comment is the Greenlandic one – a long silence followed by a single monosyllable.
On the story about Trump thinking about buying Greenland, the BBC article misses out what I suspect Trump is most likely to be interested in about Greenland. Greenland has a potentially large resource of rare earth metals and contains a site called Kvanefjeld which is believed to be the world’s second-largest deposit of rare-earth oxides.
Some material from Wikipedia about the significance of rare earth metals and China’s current dominance of the world’s rare earth industry:
“The rare earth industry in China is a large industry that is important to Chinese internal economics. Rare earths are a group of elements on the periodic table with similar properties. Rare earth metals are used to manufacture everything from electric or hybrid vehicles, wind turbines, consumer electronics and other clean energy technologies. The elements are also important to national governments because they are used in the defense industry. Twenty percent of rare earth demands are for use as permanent magnets. Permanent magnets can be used for a variety of applications including serving as essential components of weapons systems and high performance aircraft.
Rare earths are found in various minerals such as monazite and bastnasite. They are dispersed in low concentrations and are costly to extract from ore. Major reserves in the world exist in China, California, India, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, and Malaysia. However, China accounts for over 95 percent of the world’s production of rare earths. Therefore, having control of these elements puts China at a powerful position.”
The USA currently imports 80% of its rare earth metals from China. If the USA wanted to reduce or even avoid having to import these materials, acquiring Greenland might be a way of doing it.
Some people might wonder that if these materials are in so much demand, then why hasn’t Greenland been extracting them for decades? The answer to that is that the country that runs Greenland, Denmark, is a virtue-signalling anti-nuclear power country (Denmark is the country that originated the “Nuclear Power? No thanks” smiling sun sticker that you used to see in car windows years ago). As part of the virtue-signalling, Denmark banned the mining of uranium in Greenland decades ago, and that meant that rare earth metals couldn’t be extracted as well because they tend to occur in close association with the uranium deposits. About five years ago Denmark lifted the ban I think mainly due to the rare earth metal issue.
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Thanks for your interesting explanation for Trump’s interest in Greenland. Not being American, I don’t know which President bought Alaska from Russia and the Mid-West from the King of France, but Trump is obviously following an admirable American tradition which some genius labelled “the Art of the Deal.”
I’d always assumed that Denmark’s interest in holding on to Greenland was so they could be the biggest country in the EU. That and holding on to an economic basket case in order to reap EU subsidies, the way big companies always have a loss-making subsidiary for tax purposes.
But according to Wiki, it’s more complicated than that. Apparently, Greenland has already left the EU, 34 years before the UK, so that they could go on skinning seals in the traditional way, though they remain under the authority of Queen Margarethe II of Denmark under a system recognised in international law as “one country, two systems” just like Hong Kong. Greenlanders thus continue to be permitted to skin seals alive, unlike the Danes, just as Hong Kongers are allowed to elect their own legislative assembly, unlike Mainland Chinese. The day Greenlanders march down the main street of their capital Nuuk waving American flags and singing the American anthem (as Hong Kong “pro-democracy” demonstrators have been doing) we’ll know that they have achieved true independence.
Another interesting fact from Wiki is that the Norwegians arrived three centuries before the Inuit, who now constitute 90% of the population. I note also that their Prime Minister is called Kim and the Speaker of the Parliament is called Vivian. They may flay seals alive in their private life, but surely you can do a deal with people called Kim and Vivian.
this is one of your best, and that’s saying a lot.