Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

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Coastal adaptation at the Discovery Centre

The wonderful irony of using hard, pointy Lego to illustrate living shorelines as an adaptation strategy.

The wonderful irony of using hard, pointy Lego to illustrate living shorelines as an adaptation strategy.

Salt marsh or dykes?

Salt marsh or dykes?

Great to see the new Oceans display at the Discovery Centre, including a new touch tank (sorry, guys) popular with the kids. Even cooler was the substantive content on coastal adaptation options, whimsically implemented with Lego (above). Also really neat to see this slider-based exploration of salt marsh restoration versus strengthening dyke-based protection as coastal options (right). This felt very topical as our team plans for Coastal Zone Canada next week in St. Johns, where we are developing a workshop on ‘making space for movement’ by nature-based coastal adaptation options.

NOLA book serendipity

Three books from my AAG trip to New Orleans

Three books from my AAG trip to New Orleans

Bookshelf serendipity strikes again! I can’t resist telling this story, though it was awhile ago. Appropriate to the geography conference I was in town to attend, I bought a compelling atlas of New Orleans by Rebeccas Solnit and Snedeker, Unfathomable City, part of a series at UC Press, at a small bookstore behind the Cabildo. Each map and essay tells an idiosyncratic story about the place, including human and river channel migrations, social and landscape erosions, including social clubs, seafood and sex. While excellent, it wasn’t an easy one to tote in my bag for idle moments.

The ‘take a book, leave a book’ shelf at my hotel filled the gap with But What if We’re Wrong, by pop seer Chuck Klosterman (sorry Columns Hotel, I’ll leave one next time). Klosterman is talking about the same thing that I was at AAG to talk about: climax thinking. He asks how we can learn to make decisions anticipating the many ways that we might be wrong, so we don’t box ourselves in. Instead we denigrate the people who made decisions or assessments we reflect upon today as folly, but assume against evidence that we’re going to be right. There is something to be said about doubt.

Having finished both of the above, I needed another book for the flight home. During a layover in Toronto airport I bought Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowicz. He is a computer scientist who thinks data mining has replaced social science, so a few sections (particularly the conclusion) grated, but this was a fun (and surprisingly dirty) introduction to how secondary online datasets like our Google queries help us learn what people are really thinking and feeling. I have since brought up his examples in a few social science contexts, like the energy incubator at Cornell. I’m loathe to hand it to students, given some of the icky content (people are, it turns out, gross), but as survey response rates drop, offensiphobia rules, and questions around sustainability cross the sociology/psychology boundary, such datasets may well be the only way we can really understand what kind of society we are really working with.

New paper on HM trainers

Carolyn Mann’s first paper out of the HM project – Holistic Management and adaptive grazing: a trainers’ view – is online this morning at Sustainability, and open access. Ours is the first paper out in a special issue on Agroecology for the Transition towards Social-Ecological Sustainability. We just happened to have a draft ready when we heard about the special issue. Carolyn interviewed 25 HM or adaptive grazing trainers across Canada and the US to get a sense of how they see their training, and their trainees. Some interesting findings around gender, what it means to adopt, as well as the separability between the holistic planning and the specific grazing practices.

Next we developed a systems thinking statement concourse, in part using these interviews, and conducted Q-method online with 18 HM trainers and trainees to identify degrees and types of systems thinking. That paper is still in development, but a little teaser: gender again seems to play a role!

Chignecto wind survey launch

Ellen Chappell addresses her notification postcards in the SRES Hayes Room, March 25, 2018.

Ellen Chappell addresses her notification postcards in the SRES Hayes Room, March 25, 2018.

Great that research design, ethics and funding has finally lined up to allow MES candidate Ellen Chappell to get her survey of residents underway in the Chignecto area of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (around Sackville and Amherst). This multiple-reminder survey is the first out of my lab with the general public rather than farmers. This work is affiliated with the Energy Transitions in Canada SSHRC project led by John Parkins at the University of Alberta. This week the first full survey will be sent, and we cross our fingers for a healthy response rate.

New role on NS Biodiversity Council

St. Andrews Marsh, May 21, 2018.

St. Andrews Marsh, May 21, 2018.

Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity, and I’m pleased to announce I was appointed to the new Biodiversity Council for Nova Scotia. The other members are Dr Donna Hurlburt (Aboriginal Advisor at Acadia University, Mi’kmaq ecologist, and conservation biologist), Dr. Graham Forbes (Professor at UNB), and Peter Oram (Senior Environmental Specialist at GHD). From the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announcement press release:

The goals of the Council are:

  1. Identify strategic priorities for work, including regulations, under a Biodiversity Act,
  2. Identify knowledge gaps and provide advice on using the ecosystem approach to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use,
  3. Advise on approaches and priorities for research, data gathering, and management,
  4. Make recommendations to the Minister on emerging and evolving biodiversity issues.

 …

The Council’s work will include supporting the development of a Biodiversity Act, a project under the strategic priority “Our Natural Resources.” The purpose of the Act is to further enable Nova Scotia to improve the conservation and sustainable use of wild species and ecosystems in flexible and adaptive ways, address legislative gaps and manage emerging risks.

I’ve been working with DNR folks like Glen Parsons and John Brazner for years on social science about biodiversity conservation on farms, coasts and wetlands, and will be pleased to be of service.

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