;

Longer summers, shorter winters, less water

In our latest newsletter, we delve into how Manitobans are coping with a devastating drought and the impact the climate crisis is poised to have on Canada's food systems

Summers are no longer a simple respite from long Canadian winters. They now mean facing the new horrors of climate change. Tragedies such as the wildfires engulfing the continent are an annual fixture in the news, but Manitoba is currently experiencing a threat that is less-seen but no less dangerous — a devastating and relentless drought.

The Prairies have long struggled with seasonal water shortages but the climate crisis is amplifying the impact of droughts.

“These droughts occurred in the past because of some natural climate processes, some climate patterns that diverted the water to other parts of North America,” Dave Sauchyn, the director of the University of Regina’s Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative, told The Narwhal for a recent on-the-ground feature by contributor Sarah Lawryniuk.

“But they are now occurring in a warming climate where there is more water loss… Our summers are getting longer, our winters are getting shorter. And so there are more days in which we’re losing water each year. And so when we have a combination of a lack of precipitation, and more days of water loss, you can expect that in a warming climate, the droughts have greater impact and severity.”

Get The Narwhal in your inbox!

People always tell us they love our newsletter. Find out yourself with a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism

The Canadian Drought Monitor has deemed all of southern Manitoba to be under varying degrees of drought. Large portions of the province are under an exceptional drought — the most severe category.

This has been disastrous for farmers like Tom and Cam Johnson, a father and son duo who run a farm in Oak Point, Man. They’re smack dab in the middle of a region experiencing some of the worst drought conditions in Manitoba’s recent history. 

Photo: Aaron Vincent Elkaim / The Narwhal

“It was hard enough before — just farming in general. It was tough to make a living out of it. But then you throw this on top, it’s pretty near impossible,” Cam said.

The Johnsons have had to scramble to adapt to the exceptionally dry conditions, such as constructing makeshift troughs for their cows since water in lowlands and ditches has disappeared — and water troughs are sold out across the province.

This situation is worrying not just for farmers like the Johnsons, but for all Canadians. More than 80 per cent of Canada’s agricultural lands are in the Prairies, meaning that changes to the climate there have the potential to destabilize food security.

It’s a bleak look at what’s to come if nothing is done to address these worsening drought conditions. Provincial and federal governments are promising aid, but for some ranchers it’s already too late. For others, they can only wait and pray for rain. 

Take care and conserve water,

Josie Kao
Assistant editor


We’re hiring!

Mickenzie Plemel-Stronks looks out onto grassland from a car

As The Narwhal expands its pod on the Prairies, we’re looking for a talented and motivated reporter to join our team.

Location: Anywhere in Alberta or Saskatchewan
Hours: Full time (37.5 hours a week, with flexibility)
Salary: $60,000-$70,000
Type: Full-time permanent
Deadline: Aug. 15, 2021

Read more about the position and application details here.


The Narwhal in the world

Ever since the pandemic put a halt to in-person activities, our reporters have been itching to get back into the field. Last week, northern B.C. reporter Matt Simmons was able to do just that when he got sent off to Haida Gwaii to learn about endangered goshawks — you can listen to an adorable but very irritated juvenile goshawk Matt recorded here! Since then, he’s been brimming with excitement about these marvelous birds. 

We’re excited to bring you more about the work being done to better understand and protect this population of super-elusive and genetically unique goshawks in the coming weeks. So keep your eyes peeled for Matt’s upcoming story. If you want to support our in-depth, on-the-ground journalism (and see more of Matt looking happy in the wild), become a monthly member today for any amount you can afford.


This week in The Narwhal

7 years after Mount Polley disaster, B.C. faces another mining boom — and regulations still fall short

the image of two men are reflected in muddy water

By Brishti Basu

On Aug. 4, 2014, a dam holding contaminated waste failed, causing one of the worst mining disasters in Canadian history. Despite repeated promises from the province to avoid a similar disaster, communities remain at risk and on the hook for the costs of mine pollution, according to experts. Read more


Trudeau offers $5.2 billion bailout for Newfoundland and Labrador’s beleaguered Muskrat Falls hydro dam

muskrat falls dam at night

By John Woodside

Ahead of a likely federal election, the Liberals committed to covering the vast majority of cost overruns for the controversial $13.1 billion megaproject, which has faced staunch opposition from local Indigenous communities and environmental organizations. Read more.


Meet Safeena Dhalla, The Narwhal’s new director of operations and impact

Safeena Dhalla posing outside

By Josie Kao

Safeena is ready to fight for systemic change and bring The Narwhal to the next level. We couldn’t be more excited. Read more


What we’re reading

Globe and Mail article: The climate refugees are coming. Countries and international law aren’t ready for them

When you’re feeling your bliss. Why not keep the good vibes going by telling your friends to sign up for our newsletter?

New title

You’ve read all the way to the bottom of this article. That makes you some serious Narwhal material.

And since you’re here, we have a favour to ask. Our independent, ad-free journalism is made possible because the people who value our work also support it (did we mention our stories are free for all to read, not just those who can afford to pay?).

As a non-profit, reader-funded news organization, our goal isn’t to sell advertising or to please corporate bigwigs — it’s to bring evidence-based news and analysis to the surface for all Canadians. And at a time when most news organizations have been laying off reporters, we’ve hired five journalists over the past year.

Not only are we filling a void in environment coverage, but we’re also telling stories differently — by centring Indigenous voices, by building community and by doing it all as a people-powered, non-profit outlet supported by more than 3,500 members

The truth is we wouldn’t be here without you. Every single one of you who reads and shares our articles is a crucial part of building a new model for Canadian journalism that puts people before profit.

We know that these days the world’s problems can feel a *touch* overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like what we do doesn’t make any difference, but becoming a member of The Narwhal is one small way you truly can make a difference.

If you believe news organizations should report to their readers, not advertisers or shareholders, please become a monthly member of The Narwhal today for any amount you can afford.

The lessons for British Columbia in Alaska’s epic Bristol Bay sockeye run

Every summer, biologist Daniel Schindler walks hundreds of kilometers up and down the Wood River in Alaska, counting red and green sockeye salmon homing to...

Continue reading

Recent Posts

Help power our ad-free, non‑profit journalism
The Narwhal has arrived in Ontario!

Guess what? We just launched an Ontario bureau. Keep up with the latest scoops by signing up for a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism.