Thunder in December: Inuit Discourse on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change.
Martina Tyrrell, Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom, email@example.com, http://www.abdn.ac.uk/anthropology/Tyrell.php
In December 2002, the Inuit community of Arviat, on the northwest coast of Hudson Bay, experienced unseasonably weather conditions. Air temperature rose, rain fell and the sound of thunder filled the air. During those darkest days of winter the weather was anything but "wintry". This paper will examine this and other extreme phenomena, along with more on-going climatic changes, from the perspective of Inuit hunters. Reaction to climate change amongst Inuit is neither uniform nor simple. On the one hand, understandings of environmental phenomena are informed by global climate change discourse, as Inuit grow more concerned about the future sustainability of their way of life. On the other hand, they are confident of their resilience and ability to adapt to whatever changes come their way. Elders fear for the future, believing that climate change brings greater uncertainty and risk, while younger, active hunters are confident that their on-going attunement and attentiveness to the environment, combined with improved technology, prepares them for any climate changes that might be or currently are taking place. Global climate change is currently impacting on northern peoples, not only in how they make their living and make their way in the world, but perhaps more fundamentally, in how they perceive their environment and their place within it; and in how they perceive the relationship between themselves and the rest of the world. Using an ethnographic case-study from one Inuit community, I will explore the complex ways in which climate change is understood by Arctic native peoples, and how they attempt to deal with it on an on-going basis.