Landscapes - People - Global change

Month: September 2023

Sabbatical reading: Global Nomads (2022)

One of the things I really enjoy about sabbatical is the time to read whole books. This month I enjoyed reading Gaia Vince’s Nomad Century (2022). She takes an unflinching look at what will be required for human survival in a 4 degree hotter world, including, as she describes, about a billion people on the move for every degree of warming. “Migration will save us, because it is migration that made us who we are” (p. xvi). But she also talks about the challenges of “overcoming a geopolitical mindset, the idea that we belong to a particular land and that it belongs to us” (p. xvi), toward being a pan-species, citizen of earth. She explores practical reasons how we can facilitate large-scale migration, and swift integration of new residents rather than holding them in purgatory, and why it is good for everyone if we do. She describes that in considering new settings for landscapes and migration…

… the baseline shouldn’t be thought of as your current life as lived today – the comparison rather is between a hotter environment with flash floods, more violent storms, poor food availability, a shrunken workforce with little elderly care, a social environment of fear with increased conflict, terrorism, famine and death broadcast to your screens from the global south … or far less of the misery, but many more foreign people living in denser cities. (p. 94)

Vince gives as an example the proactive stance of Kiribati President Anote Tong, who has secured territory in Fiji for possible relocation and is facilitating citizens to find livelihoods overseas, but not only that. He is preparing “citizens for the psychological – as well as practical – hurdle of leaving their ancestral land, graves and culture” (p. 145). At the Managed Retreat conference back in June a lot of the content was about ‘receiving cities’, the impacts of migrants upon them and the well-being of those new arrivals. In general the news seemed to be (drawing in part on the work of Neil Adger) that migration is good for receiving communities, so the easier that migration and integration is made, the better for all. Vince also mentioned a BC Climate Migrant and Refugee project that mapped displacement to prepare BC towns, and I look forward to digging into that more. Vince has a techno-optimistic perspective on how we can keep the earth liveable, so at times, the book is solidly dread inducing, but I’ve never seen a more systematic exploration of how we can get ourselves out of this mess. She concludes the book with a manifesto of 8 items, first among them: “People relocating is a natural human behaviour; migration is a successful survival adaptation” (p. 211). Amen.

New paper on blue carbon management by municipalities

MREM student and WWF intern Anna Murphy recently published her research on blue carbon management by municipalities with the new journal Nature Based Solutions, titled, “Whose carbon is it?” Understanding Municipalities Role in Blue Carbon Ecosystems Management in Canada. As an incentive offered by this new journal, this paper is Open Access. Anna interviewed dozens of municipal planners across Canada and found that blue carbon is not seen as their jurisdiction, and that when it is managed it’s done for co-benefits other than the carbon sequestration benefits, such as habitat protection and biodiversity.

Reasons for management of 'blue carbon' ecosystems in Canadian coastal municipalities, according to Murphy et al., (2023)

#sabbaticalprof

Working through Sam’s draft thesis on the deck.

There is nothing quite like a sabbatical August. I did not have classes to prepare for the fall, for instance, or orientation schedules to negotiate. I can work through my pile of student writing and other tasks at leisure. Often outside.

There has been  a bit of action, though. There was another meeting up in Tabusintac of the UQAR collaborative team to talk with our community partners and refine our research ideas based on what we heard last time. We also had a 2-day meeting for TCA‘s Cluster 3.3 to establish work packages between participants at Dal, UQAR in Rimouski, and Laval in Quebec City. Great people, hard work and a productive time.

TCA Cluster 3.3 meets in Halifax at the end of August, 2022.

Driving around the Acadian Peninsula after the Tabusintac meeting, it was fascinating to see the peat harvesting activities being undertaken by companies like Sun Gro.  In the context of accelerating climate change that we’re living it, with all its costs, it boggles the mind that we are continuing to harvest peat from wetlands. The scars on the landscape are dramatic, and the big vacuums that do the work inspire a menacing feeling reminiscent of the Dune spice harvesters. All this for horticultural soil amendment for which there are alternatives.

 

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