Adapting to a Changing Climate

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.
beef cattle grazing alfalfa in bloom
I had a National Geographic poster of “Ice Age Mammals of the Alaskan Tundra” on my bedroom wall when I was a kid. It showed herds of prehistoric muskoxen, horses, wolves, lemmings, bears, lions, mammoths, camels, saber-toothed tigers, mastodons and humans marauding across a vast, grassy expanse 12,000 years ago. The muskoxen, bears, wolves and lemmings still live in Alaska. The lions, camels and horses moved to other parts of the world where the climate suited them better. The saber-toothed tigers, mammoths and mastodons went extinct. When archaeologists found the frozen remains of these animals, they dug deeper and uncovered the fossils of duckbilled dinosaurs from millions of years earlier when conditions were hot and tropical.

Earth’s climate is always changing. Volcanoes, bogs, soil and animals exhale greenhouse gases, and plants and the oceans absorb them. Since industrialization, human burning of fossil fuels has emitted greenhouse gases faster than the natural environment can sequester them. Climate models predict how changing greenhouse gas levels will impact future global temperature and precipitation patterns.

Climate models resemble economic models – both are constantly being tweaked and improved as better data becomes available, and both are subject to “noise” that temporarily obscures long-term trends. Economic forecasters consider historical and current data about an industry and the larger economy to predict future trends. Unforeseen shocks like BSE or a pandemic cause significant short- to medium-term disruptions that might make people think the economic model is broken. But over time, long-term trends shine through (e.g., trends towards agricultural consolidation with fewer and larger pharmaceutical and equipment companies, farms, feedlots, packers and retailers). Similarly, volcanoes, solar dimming or cyclical El Nino or La Nina weather patterns can temporarily obscure long-term climate trends. Even if we don’t like where trends are pointing, understanding them can help us respond appropriately. Continue reading

Attention researchers: Quebec-Ontario Cooperation for Agri-Food Research Competition

Proposals are invited for the 2017-2018 Quebec-Ontario Cooperation for Agri-Food Research Competition.

Letter of Intent Submission deadline: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. EST

Research Priority Areas
This call for proposals is focused on climate change.   Proposals are solicited that will generate new knowledge and/or technologies in the following areas:

  • Research to evaluate climate change impact on soil health and develop best practices
  • Research to determine climate change impacts on food processing and food safety including development of adaptation and mitigation strategies

Who May Apply
Universities and non-profit, non-governmental applied research centres are eligible to apply. Each application must be submitted jointly by a research institution based in Quebec and another based in Ontario.

Other public or private research institutions and organizations can contribute to the project as research team members or partners/co-funders. This includes colleges, government departments, industry associations and businesses.

How to Apply
The competition consists of a two-stage application process, and each project requires a co-lead from an Ontario and Quebec institution. The application form, as well as the competition guide with complete program and submission details, is available at: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/research/onqc_research/index.html

Threats and opportunities for the beef industry related to climate change: Webinar January 31

Update: Missed the webinar? Find the recording and check for future webinars on our Webinars page: http://www.beefresearch.ca/resources/webinars.cfm



What do scientists predict in terms of weather patterns across Canada in the future? How might climate change impact forage and cattle production? Join this webinar to learn what is known and unknown about climate change, and how our industry can prepare for harmful and beneficial impacts on water, feed supply, disease carrying pests, transportation, beef processing, and Continue reading