The long-awaited Energy Impacts volume on my home office desk.
Excited to have my complimentary copy of Energy Impacts land yesterday, which includes my first articulation of climax thinking as well as a nice comparison of Q-method and survey Likert for understanding energy discourses across scales (co-authored with John Parkins). Patience is a virtue with edited volumes; this work was submitted and accepted back in 2017/2018 if I recall correctly. The volume is lovely, with great font, design and production values, which is wonderful to see as we are using the same publisher for Opening Windows, the next state-of-knowledge edited volume for natural resource social sciences (chapter call currently out). It wasn’t published quite in time for Christmas but I hope it finds a good audience.
Kudos to Samantha Howard and Andrew Willms for defending their Environmental Science Honours proposals yesterday. Both did a great job, and fielded questions expertly. Samantha is exploring resistance to public flood mapping, using Lunenburg County as a case study, and Andrew is working with Department of Lands and Forestry to try to understand the steep increase in human-bear conflict in the province in recent years and how to reduce it. Thanks to Tarah Wright, who leads the Honours class, for her excellent preparation of Sam and Andrew and the rest of the cohort.
New edited volume cover
Excited to see that the new edited volume by Jacquet, Haggerty and Theodori, Energy Impacts, A Multidisciplinary Exploration of North American Energy Development, is finally available for pre-order. This book has come out of a US NSF-funded grant held by the editors, which provided the opportunity for a great symposium as well. I workshopped climax thinking at the symposium in Ohio back in 2017, and subsequently submitted my original framework chapter, From climax thinking toward a non-equilibrium approach to public good landscape change, to the resulting book, and so have been getting a little impatient for its release. John Parkins and I also submitted a methodological piece on Q-methodology across scales. It is good news to finally learn that the book will be available for download or shipping later in 2020. While my chapter is not limited at all to impacts in energy, the ideas first emerged while working on the Mactaquac dam and headpond back in the mid 2010s. Nice that this is out around the same time that I’m delivering a keynote at ISSRM 2020 (online) about climax thinking and the empirical work that has been done since I wrote this chapter.
Images of landscape change in the Tantramar/Chignecto used in research led by Ellen Chappell
Thrilled today to see Ellen Chappell’s first MES paper out in Landscape and Urban Planning, the pre-eminent journal for landscape research, titled ‘Climax thinking, place attachment, and utilitarian landscapes: Implications for wind energy development‘. She explored the natural experiment that happened in the Tantramar/Chignecto area on the isthmus between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia when the Radio Canada International towers came down around the same time as the Sprott Wind Farm went up (images d and e, opposite). She used climax thinking theory in a randomized population mailout survey to understand how residents of the area experienced the loss of utilitarian infrastructure, much of which is now only vestigial, and the addition of wind turbines. Attachment to such infrastructures was not correlated with place attachment or time in place, surprisingly. It turned out that conservatives and males are most attached to that utilitarian infrastructure of the past–they were well established in their ‘climax landscape’–but also that people could acquire attachment to wind turbines in a similar way. Those with higher climax thinking (in terms of attachment to those vestigial utilitarian features) who could see wind turbines from their home currently were more supportive of more wind energy. So, as we found last year in a national survey, exposure to energy infrastructure is an important leverage point to renewable energy support.
Climax thinking, illustrated (Sherren, forthcoming in Energy Impacts: A Multidisciplinary Exploration of North American Energy Development, co-edited by Jacquet, Haggerty and Theodori)
We recently learned that the collected volume manuscript that began with an NSF-funded workshop at Ohio State University in 2017 has been accepted by the publishers (Social Ecology Press & Utah State University Press) for release late 2019 or early 2020. My sole-authored contribution to that collection, From climax thinking to a non-equilibrium approach to public good landscape change, is a theoretical culmination of a few years of work in hydroelectricity and coastal landscape change. Climax thinking uses a ecological analogy (i.e. climax in succession theory) to explore resistance to landscape transitions like those needed for renewable energy, coastal adaptation or urban densification. Feeling like your landscape has reached its ‘climax’ state is a powerful illusion, and leads those with means to push landscape change to those without. Three dimensions of the pathology are described and some possible ‘cures’ presented, hopefully leading to a non-equlibrium approach to landscape so we can meet the challenges ahead.
As so often happens when I read fiction, I am startled by links to theory. So it was when finishing up Rachel Cusk’s 2003 The Lucky Ones (p. 97-98) last week, a perfect microcosm of the fiction and injustice of holding landscapes in privileged stasis as described by climax thinking:
Ravenley had no pub or shop, no car park or playground, not even a telephone box. Superficially, it had not changed in a hundred years. The world beyond it sustained this appearance in the way that a life-support machine sustains the sleep of a dead patient. It was a costly process that had no purpose beyond the consolation of certain feelings. On the other side of the hill different standards obtained. Electricity pylons marched across grey, cluttered fields. Housing developments rose bloodily from the earth. Roads and roundabouts, petrol stations, landfill sites, industrial estates and shopping centres, all at different stages in a cycle of decay, gave the impression of something injured, something mutilated perhaps beyond repair, but for the time being at least independently alive. Cars issued discreetly from Raveley’s well-tended properties, ascended to the horizon and disappeared, to return again later, freighted with food and fuel. These properties, so unmarked, seemed like embodiments of pure emotion. Detached from their material shame, with no discernible edge of need, they gave the impression of housing lives in which fact was recessive and feeling predominant, in which feeling might have attained the status of fact, and become the moderating force of daily existence.