Congratulations to Dr. Bernard Soubry who successfully defended his PhD remotely to Oxford this morning. His dissertation is titled, Towards Taking Farmers Seriously: Contributions of farmer knowledge to food systems adaptation to climate change. He phoned me afterward and said he was going to go make doughnuts to celebrate. That’s a COVID celebration if I’ve ever heard of one.
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.
Yesterday and today I’ve been enjoying participating in an OECD expert workshop on Resilience and the Ocean-Climate Nexus, an initiative of their new horizontal programme. This was cohosted by the Portuguese delegation to the OECD. I was invited to share experiences from Nova Scotia in a panel on OECD country experiences on ocean climate impacts and resilience, allowing me to update the Truro dyke realignment case study I led for the OECD volume Responding to Rising Seas a few years ago and talking about some more recent developments like the Coastal Protection Act. My co-panelists brought more national (Vasco Becker-Weinberg of Portugal on Marine Spatial Planning and the law), and international perspectives (Georg Borsting of Norway on the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy). Our discussion across these scales was productive and stimulating. I was glad for the opportunity to bring a coastal and social perspective to this event, with an RSVP list of over 260 people from 58 different countries, many of them practitioners or from government.
I’m delighted by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), which I learned today is investing heavily into my research programme. Current ResNet MES student Emily Wells got a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship – Masters, as well as incoming ResNet MES student Elizabeth Bray. Incoming MES student Samantha Howard has also won a SSHRC scholarship to work on my coastal adaptation/climax thinking research, and my four-year solo SSHRC Insight Grant on that topic was also successful. Thanks, SSHRC! I didn’t mean those things I said about you last year.