I reported on climate change and mental health in the Arctic, from Canada to Scandinavia, with photojournalist Camilla Andersen on a fellowship with the GroundTruth Project.
Mike Papoosie, 14, often doesn’t know what to do once the library closes at night. He doesn’t want to go home just to stare at the wall in his tiny bedroom, he says, because it will make him crazy.
Instead, Mike (whose name was changed for this story in order to protect the health of a minor) and his friends wander the icy roads of Clyde River, Canada, migrating like a pod of narwhal. In Clyde, this is one of the most popular activities for teens. They trudge along the snow-packed gravel, joking and talking and scanning the sky for northern lights. If they reach the end of the road, where snowy tundra takes over, they turn around. There is no destination in mind, anyway. They just try to stay moving, to keep some momentum in their lives. A new kind of nomadism.
“This town,” Mike says. “It drives some people insane.” Read more at Pacific Standard.
Hundreds of reindeer gallop around the corral, their hooves and knees popping with the sound of a fire crackling. It’s late, but here in the land of the midnight sun, the sky is silvery and bright. A mist rolls over the Arctic tundra, framing the herders and their animals in ghostly silhouettes.
This is a community wrapped tight in tradition: The indigenous peoples of northern Scandinavia — the Sami — have herded reindeer for generations. But it is also a community in crisis. Climate change has put enormous strain on these powerful animals — and on the men and women who care for them.
With that strain has come a mental health crisis. A crisis of suicide. Read more on STAT News.
Herding reindeer is part of a traditional way of life for an indigenous Arctic people known as the Sami. Their ancestral land – stretching across parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia – is where many still live by the rhythms of centuries-old traditions.
In Sweden in particular, a mental health crisis is taking root among the Sami. It’s a complicated equation, but climate change is playing a role. I traveled to Arctic Scandinavia on a fellowship with the GroundTruth Project to report on this changing environment and the mental health landscape. Listen at the GroundTruth Project.
In Russia, buildings are sagging and crumbling. In Greenland, a wildfire broke out last year. And in Alaska, entire villages may be relocated because the land upon which they’re built is no long trustworthy.
All across the North, the very ground is changing, and the buildings and roads built upon the thawing permafrost are shifting and cracking.
In Iqaluit, the capital of the Canadian territory Nunavut, a good home is hard to find. An efficiency apartment runs around $2,000 a month, while a two-bedroom house will cost about $3,500. These New York prices are shocking in a small, remote town of about 7,500 people. And there still aren’t enough homes for everyone. Read more at CityLab (republished by Wired, MSN, National Observer and The Week)
“This is a spring and summer treat,” says Arvid Gaup, the father of a reindeer herder in this remote town in northern Norway. He sets a haunch of freeze-dried reindeer, known as goikebiergu, on the table and begins carving off slivers of jerky.
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