ENVIRO: Positioning NL for Climate Change

Jonas Roberts,
PhD, PEng, Wood Environmental & Infrastructure Solutions

While climate models show that Newfoundland and Labrador isn’t likely to face a future of devastating droughts and heatwaves, it doesn’t mean climate change won’t impact
us. Rising sea levels and extreme precipitation can have a drastic effect if we fail to adequately adapt our infrastructure. Moreover, NL is inextricably connected to the rest of the world. Because of this, we can expect to face a variety of challenges posed by a changing global climate. There are at least two specific opportunities where we can start acting now.

“Rising sea levels and extreme precipitation can have a drastic effect if we fail to adequately adapt our infrastructure.”

The first is food security. Current global industrial agriculture practices are simply not jose-duarte-DuholBfUUCY-unsplashsustainable. As a result, topsoil is being lost at an astonishing rate and carbon is being released from the soils, instead of being captured by them. The world’s breadbaskets – regions where food is produced, particularly grains – are also experiencing droughts and/ or extreme precipitation on an increasingly frequent basis. In addition to that, transporting food from farm to table remains one of the biggest challenges in the food chain. It’s also expensive. As we all know, the bulk of our food in NL is imported. Currently, we are experiencing a growing interest among younger generations to grow their own food, whether on a commercial, community or backyard scale.

This is an opportunity for us to take advantage of these innovative agricultural
practices – as well as the projected longer growing season – to expand and build upon a sustainable agricultural industry in this province. Those practices include: regenerative agriculture to improve soil quality and quantity;
capturing and storing carbon, as we produce plant and animal-sourced food; and, implementing regional composting. The ocean also provides us ample
opportunities to farm seaweed and shellfish, which can create nutrient-dense, high protein foods – for us and our livestock – while improving water quality and marine habitats.


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