Sunday, September 1, 2013

Arctic laughter

The scientific study of the basis for humour finds that it stems “from a benign violation of the way the world ought to be.”

An excellent example is the Chinese proverb “There is no pleasure so great as watching a good friend fall off the roof.”

In the same vein, I found the story of the Mainstream Renewable Energy Project, which set out in June to row across the North-West Passage in order to draw attention to climate change ( ), the source of a great deal of laughter. The North-West Passage closed solid with ice before the end of August, and the rowers had to abandon their attempt.

“Over the past 54 days we traversed more than 1500-kms of the Northwest Passage from Inuvik, NWT to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut and have come away humbled and awed by the experience. We had hoped to make it to Pond Inlet, Nunavut by early September but this has proven impossible. Severe weather conditions hindered our early progress and now ice chokes the passage ahead.”

“Our message remains unaffected though, bringing awareness to the pressing issues of climate change in the arctic.”

Errr!  Hang on!  The Arctic turns Arctic, and you have to draw attention to some change?? What change?? Seems to me the Arctic is what it has always been, bloody cold, bloody inhospitable, the sort of place that would humble and awe the strongest. Are you trying to tell us the place is getting cold?  We knew that.  You should have known that. What an absolutely futile mission you went on.

But, of course, there were all those True Believers who financed this futile exercise.  So they have to be told the Good News – “Floyd Roland, the former premiere of the North West Territories and the current mayor of Inuvik speaks of winters that now begin a month later than when he was a kid, of strange and inconsistent weather patterns that were once far more predictable. Elders Billy and Eileen Jacobson of Tuktoyaktuk speak of winters shortened by a fortnight at either end.”  Except that for our intrepid explorers, the winters came sooner and were longer, and the weather patterns were only too predictable.

You have to laugh – if it weren’t true, the self-deception would be quite sad.

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