Congratulations to Gardenio da Silva who defended his MES thesis this morning on Social impact assessment (SIA) practice for hydroelectricity in CAnada: a review of methods and monitoring. Wonderful to have IA expert Meinhard Doelle examining the thesis from Sweden, John Parkins ringing in early from Alberta (in the midst of this heat wave) in a committee capacity, and colleague Andrew Medeiros managing it all as chair. It was a wonderful conversation about the practice of SIA, using hydro dams as a case, in a challenging context. Gardenio’s work leveraged secondary datsets, including SIA documents and longitudinal media coverage. Both papers within the thesis are at an advanced stage of publication, which makes the process a bit easier, but there was a lot to engage on. Great to see so many MES defending comfortably within the allocated two years.
One of several papers that have been bunged up in COVID-related publication delays has finally come out today in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Why is grazing management being overlooked in climate adaptation policy?. The article, led by former postdoc Wesley Tourangeau, now at Lincoln in the UK, takes a close look at the two 2018 studies by the Canadian House and Senate of about agriculture and climate change. Despite significant expert advocacy in the evidence-gathering phase about the value of grazing management approaches to climate adaptation, none of that was included in either final report or parliamentary response. Wes took a critical discourse analysis approach to the 112 documents, looking not only at what is said about grazing management but who is saying it, and what that says about power and ideologies. A focus on industry and government voices leads in this case to a focus on expensive, high-tech but low-labour options at the detriment of high-skill and high-labour approaches like grazing management. This techno-fix bias to climate policy pathways closes doors unnecessarily, as the new documentary Kiss the Ground indicates: protecting and rebuilding the soil, as grazing management does, is an important piece of the climate puzzle, not just for adaptation but mitigation, too.
Update: Thanks to Carolyn Mann for telling me that in a moment of synchronicity, rotational grazing was mentioned in the federal budget yesterday (p. 174), viz:
Agricultural Climate Solutions
Farmers are major players in Canada’s fight against climate change. The agricultural sector has the potential to scale up climate solutions, many of which are already underway across the country. Building on Canada’s climate action programs for farmers—including the $185 million Agricultural Climate Solutions program, and the $165 million Agricultural Clean Technology Program—Budget 2021 proposes to:
Provide an additional $200 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to launch immediate, on-farm climate action under the Agricultural Climate Solutions program. This will target projects accelerating emission reductions by improving nitrogen management, increasing adoption of cover cropping, and normalizing rotational grazing (bold mine).
It’s about time.
Bravo to my Environmental Science Honours students Samantha Howard and Andrew Willms, who presented yesterday at the Science Atlantic Environment Conference. Not only that, but they impressed the judges. Andrew’s presentation on human-bear conflict in Nova Scotia brought home the Acadian award for best presentation on Acadian flora or fauna, and Samantha’s presentation on perceptions of flood risk mapping in Southwestern Nova Scotia was runner up for best undergraduate presentation!
I noted a few ResNet names among the abstracts presented at Science Atlantic events, too, to similarly impressive end. Elise Rogers presented on sediment composition in restoring salt marshes, and Makadunyiswe Ngulube on the protection wetland vegetation can provide Bay of Fundy coasts by dissipating wave energy. Maka won the best undergraduate presentation! Evan McNamara and Terrell Roulston also presented their pollinator work at a parallel Science Atlantic event on Aquaculture, Fisheries and Biology, and Terrell won the Botany prize! Bravo, everyone!
I had a bit of fun last week developing an introductory exercise for my students in Qualitative Data Analysis using the database of MES titles since 1980. The final task was to produce word clouds and I couldn’t resist doing one for all the students that I supervised. Yup: understanding landscape perceptions is a pretty good summary.
Ellen Chappell’s second MES paper is out today in Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, Those who support wind development in view of their home take responsibility for their energy use and that of others: evidence from a multi-scale analysis. This looks at predictors of support for wind development at three scales: generally/nationally, regionally (in the Chignecto area of NB/NS where the survey was implemented) and in view of respondents’ homes. The strongest predictors at that critical ‘home view’ scale was agreeing that seeing turbines remind them of the energy they use and that it has to be generated somewhere, and seeing energy as a commodity for potential export like any other. These are novel variables in the context of wind acceptability research, with interesting linkages to climax thinking, and we hope will inspire other researchers to expand the variables and scales they use.