geo oct 31 - western canada

geo oct 31 - western canada - Western Canada(Prairies...

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Western Canada (Prairies): Physical Geography 2. Medicine Hat, Alberta (Palliser’s Triangle) Climate: semi-arid; water deficiency Vegetation: short prairie grasses; “sparse” vegetation Soil: brown soil zone; shallow; high lime/salt content; low organic content; light/colour; rapid breakdown when cultivated Agricultural response to these environmental conditions – page 325-352 - Changing environmental conditions – the effects of global warming on prairie environments o Possible impacts: expansion of grassland and semi-arid zones; shrinking of boreal forest zone o One prediction for 2050 – “what used to be a breadbasket will become a dustbowl.” o Global warming/greenhouse effect - “Most scientists are convinced that Earth is on the cusp of extremely dramatic erratic alterations in long- term weather patterns What is happening? - Increased global temperatures linked to increased pollution (greenhouse gases), e.g., CO2 from burning fossil fuels, etc.) - Saskatchewan Research Council predictions: o Increased winter temperatures (6-7 degrees) within a few decades o Increased summer temperatures (3-4 degrees) within a few decades o Effects on wheat farming: Seeds fail to germinate; Warm weather crop diseases/insects “flooding and massive soil erosion by wind and water” Decreased water availability – drought/dustbowl conditions - A different perspective: o “Farmers are accustomed to adapting to weather conditions.” “ Next year country” (Bone) o Higher CO2 – help grain by increasing a plant’s ability to photosynthesize; no dustbowl conditions – plenty of moisture - Questions: o Who is right? Who should we believe? o What should we do in the face of this uncertainty about environmental outcomes? Western Canada (prairies): Historical Evolution of the Region - See bone pp 325-332 - Corporate influence: o Hudson’s Bay Company o Canadian Pacific Railway - By Confederation: o Subsistence agriculture o Large scale settlement needed to prevent U.S. expansion - Three pre-requisites for settlement o Land survey o Separate lands for Aboriginals
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