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The dilemma of ice

The Molgaard family is a fishing family on the west coast of Greenland, in Disko Bay.

Humans & ClimateChange Stories met them for the first time in August 2017, when the summer fishing season was in full swing, and before winter came to freeze the sea.


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Hanne - Niels'wife

Hanne is the village teacher. She moved to Qeqertaq in 1989. In addition to this job, she manages the small family grocery store. She has become the main contact for the few guides who lead kayak expeditions in the bay.

Niels :
Head of the family
Hanne : 
Niels' wife
Maali : 
Niels' daughter

Niels - The head of the family

Niels was always a hunter and then a fisherman in the village of Qeqertaq, where he was born. His universe is the sea, the ice, and frozen lands. He cannot imagine doing anything else.


Maali - 17 - Niels & Hanne's youngest daugther

She grew up in Qeqertaq until she left for the high school. She was 13 years old. She has just completed two years of study in Denmark thanks to a scholarship. She leaves at the end of the summer to go to the University of Aasiat.


Population : 56 000  

Capital : Nuuk (17 000)

Head of State : Kim Kielsen

Region of Denmark 

 Long ignored, the Arctic has become an important geopolitical space. The melting ice, accelerated by global warming, has sparked competition and speculation around the important mineral resources - including rare earth and uranium - and hydrocarbons that the Arctic could harbor, as well as around new commercial shipping routes that would significantly reduce current distances. 

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. 


The current situation has seemed to temper hopes of the Greenland authorities. Three major oil companies have abandoned their exploration license in 2016. There is too much risk and investments are not profitable enough in the current economic context. Greenland is basing its hopes on the fishing sector, which accounts for 90% of its exports, and is the main livelihood for the rural population. This increases the risk of encouraging intensive fishing and these resources are themselves changing due to climate change. The consequences could be disastrous for the fisherman who know how to adapt, and yet have few opportunities for reconversion.


2 166 086 km2


0,03 hab/km²

Pop growth

 -0,2 % (2015)

HDI (2014)



39 569 USD

PP growth/year

1,66% (2015)

96,1% of christians

3,9% other







Humans climate change stories greenland

Read the story and meet

Niels, Hanne, Maali and Arnatsiaq


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