Students in fields ranging from computer science and engineering to business, agriculture and animal science convened at the second Digital Agriculture Hackathon, Feb. 28-March 1, with a shared purpose: to combine their disparate skills to brainstorm ways to make the world a better place.
How do social conditions play a role in our rapidly changing environment? Prof. Shorna Allred, natural resources, focuses her research on conservation social science, in which she studies the social implications of climate change mitigation and resilience against natural disasters.
Keith Tidball, a researcher at Cornell University studying the intersections of people and nature, pointed out that simple civic ecology and citizen science projects, like the backyard bird counts that the National Audubon Society runs, have been increasing people’s access to nature for decades with the end goal of environmental stewardship. “Getting people involved in taking action about something is a huge motivator in getting them to spend time outside, and in turn, increases pro-environmental behaviors,” he said
“People all over the world want to do something about the climate crisis,” said Marianne Krasny, professor of natural resources in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and director of the Civic Ecology Lab. “All of us have social networks and maybe we can influence those networks to take positive action on climate change.”
Whitmore and others are working to establish two species of insects from western North America, called silverflies, which are known to eat adelgids in spring and summer. If successfully established in eastern forests, silverflies could become “one of the most important [adelgid] predators in the north,” Whitmore says. In combination with beetles, the flies could also help control the adelgid’s spring generation farther south, Salom adds.
In this important intervention, change-agent Marianne E. Krasny challenges the knowledge-attitudes-behavior pathway that underpins much of environmental education practice; i.e., the assumption that environmental knowledge and attitudes lead to environmental behaviors.
The fish of Lake Tanganyika in central Africa have been feeding humans for thousands of years. This tropical lake is so massive that the warmer surface never fully mixes with the cooler water below — creating a one-way drain for the nutrients contained in dead plants and animals that sink to the bottom.