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.
We live in interesting times. We are learning what is possible when we are threatened by a proximate and acute threat: what we need and what we can do without, and that the social contract is not dead. I hear that people working on COVID-19 are having virtual meetings to solve it, unlike climate scientists who have been flying around to solve climate change (the phrase f%*king for virginity comes to mind). We are also learning, many of us, that we are truly the lucky ones: in jobs that can be done remotely, with tenure, in places with strong health systems and public safety nets. Kudos to all who are working to minimize the impacts of these uncertain times for the unlucky. Be well.
A new open access paper is out today in People & Nature led by PhD candidate Bernard Soubry. This one uses the fun metaphor of ‘desire lines’ — those behavioural grooves that facilitate common activities and help negotiate obstacles — to explore adaptation to climate change among small-scale farms in the Maritimes. They don’t fit a lot of the government programming designed for climate adaptation in larger operations, so they innovate with collective action to fill the gaps. Bernard did interviews across all three Maritime provinces to elicit these ‘grass routes’ alternatives. Read all about it!