Day: March 29, 2021

How the Loss of Soil Is Sacrificing America’s Natural Heritage

Read the full story at e360.

A new study points to a stunning loss of topsoil in the Corn Belt — the result of farming practices that have depleted this once-fertile ground. Beyond diminished agricultural productivity and more carbon in the atmosphere, it is a catastrophic loss of an irreplaceable resource.

Backyard data in six US states shows that native mason bees are declining

Read the full story in Massive Science.

For 13 years, volunteers across the mid-Atlantic region helped scientists track mason bees.

Large computer language models carry environmental, social risks

Read the full story from the University of Washington.

Computer engineers at the world’s largest companies and universities are using machines to scan through tomes of written material. The goal? Teach these machines the gift of language. Do that, some even claim, and computers will be able to mimic the human brain.

But this impressive compute capability comes with real costs, including perpetuating racism and causing significant environmental damage, according to a new paper, “On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big? 🦜” The paper is being presented Wednesday, March 10 at the ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency (ACM FAccT)

Review: Everything You Never Knew about Chicago and Nature, City of Lake and Prairie

Read the full book review at Third Coast Review.

A little more than a century ago, in one of the world’s largest cities, Chicagoans lived a lot closer to nature than we do today—as in closer to animals, their smells, and their manure and urine.

Consider that, in 1918, some 2,000 dairy cows were being milked each morning in the city. A bit earlier, in 1900, you could wander around the city’s neighborhoods and find 5,000.

And it wasn’t only cows. Chicagoans also kept pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, geese, and rabbits, as Katherine Macica reports in “Animals at Work in Industrial Chicago,” one of 19 essays in City of Lake and Prairie: Chicago’s Environmental History, edited by Kathleen A. Brosnan, Ann Durkin Keating, and William C. Barnett.

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