Landscapes - People - Global change

Month: April 2023

Transforming Climate Action

Stand in front of the fish, they said. But I don’t work on fish!

Excited to hear the official announcement today that the CFREF (Canada First Research Excellence Fund) has funded Dalhousie’s largest research grant in its history, Transforming Climate Action: Addressing the Missing Ocean. (Too bad the acronym of TCA is the same as TransCoastal Adaptations, my other interdiscplinary coastal team.) I’m on this one, thanks to the third goal of “people-centric adaptation solutions to ocean and climate change based on science, developed in collaboration with communities and informed by Indigenous ways of knowing” (as the Dal President’s memo put it earlier today). In the lead-up they did a little profile of me that you can find here.

Bon voyage, Ellen

Ellen Chappell (MES'19) visited SRES before heading off to her PhD in the Netherlands.

Ellen Chappell (MES’19) visited SRES before heading off to her PhD in the Netherlands.

I was so happy to see Ellen Chappell in the SRES suite on Monday, before she heads off to Radboud University’s  Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences in the Netherlands to work on land-based carbon offsetting for her PhD. Ellen finished her MES back in 2019 and has been working for the Federal Government since then.  Hearing her talk about the adventures ahead of her made me wistful; if I was starting out again I’d do it so much better than I did the first time!

Panel role on ocean and coastal research at Dal

Four scholars in a panel set up in front of Dalhousie banners.

Getting things going at the ODL event on April 20, 2023

Last night I joined Drs Anya Waite, Mike Smit and Will Burt (of Planetary) on an Open Dialogue Live session run by Dalhousie about Accelerating Ocean Research. Inspired by the university’s CFREF proposal Transforming Climate Action, we covered the wide range of oceans research being done at Dalhousie, and the kind of rich collaborations across disciplines that will be necessary to bring oceans and coasts into the climate change solution. The event was live-streamed on YouTube and is still available there for watching. I was glad to have a chance to mention the need for ‘electoral will’ to support the political will necessary to make difficult decisions in the face of big challenges, referencing the disappointing recent decision to send the long-awaited Coastal Protection Act back to ‘public consultation’ rather than forward to regulatory development. Thanks to my co-panelists for a fun and sometimes surprising evening.

New research note on farmer ‘fenceline behaviour’

Table 1 in our Agriculture and Human Values research note, showing the statements used in our novel ‘fenceline behaviour’ question set.

At long last, a research note is out today in Agriculture and Human Values that had its genesis at many different farmer kitchen tables during past qualitative field work, going as far back as my Australian postdoc in 2008. I repeatedly heard things that suggested that direct neighbours had an impact on farm management and adoption behaviour, and not necessarily in the generally positive way suggested by diffusion of innovation theory.  In 2020 when I was hiring Kynetec to do a survey of beef producers in Canada, I turned those comments into a novel question set about ‘fenceline behaviour’, to see how those ideas looked at a population level and if there seemed to be any associations with adoption behaviour. In our new research note, Are fencelines sites of engagement or avoidance in farmer adoption of alternative practices? we identified two different clusters of farmers based on answers to those 8 statements–fenceline engagers and fenceline avoiders–and also found that farmers using adaptive multi-paddock grazing were three times more likely to be engagers. This suggests that feelings of vulnerability at the fenceline can discourage farmers who are avoiders from experimentation with new farm management approaches.  Some statements were more useful than others at differentiating between these two types. Most farmers agreed mildly, on average, that fencelines provide a good site for diagnosis: comparing the impacts of their practices relative to their neighbours. But there was a wide range of responses to, “It is ‘live and let live’ with my farming neighbours: they don’t comment on my practices and I don’t comment on theirs”, which is a rural expression of the ‘civil inattention’ concept first described by Erving Goffman in cities. We hope that others will build on this work, for instance to explore trust and norms in more detail with farm neighbours, micro-scale adoption communication and causality.

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