Special |

Sustainability

Pollution, climate change, depleted water reserves and a reduction in biodiversity are among the most alarming consequences of the harm inflicted on the environment by humans’ uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources. The extent of damage is huge and will affect the well-being of future generations. This selection of News, Comment, Review and Research articles from Nature and relevant Nature Research Journals explores the priorities for building a sustainable future.

Carbon dioxide is an abundant resource, but difficult for industry to use effectively. A simple reaction might allow it to be used to make commercial products more sustainably than with current processes. See Letter p.215

News & Views | | Nature

Pollution from atmospheric nitrogen deposition is a major threat to biodiversity. The 160-year-old Park Grass experiment has uniquely documented this threat and demonstrated how nitrogen reductions lead to recovery. See Letter p.401

News & Views | | Nature

A modelling study argues that comprehensive policy change could limit Australia's environmental pollution while maintaining a materials-intensive path to economic growth. But other paths are worth considering. See Article p.49

News & Views | | Nature

A genetically modified rice with more starch in its grains also provides fewer nutrients for methane-producing soil microbes. This dual benefit might help to meet the urgent need for globally sustainable food production. See Letter p.602

News & Views | | Nature

Two studies provide evidence that bees cannot taste or avoid neonicotinoid pesticides, and that exposure to treated crops affects reproduction in solitary bees as well as bumblebee colony growth and reproduction. See Letters p.74 & p.77

News & Views | | Nature

A meta-analysis at a local scale reveals that land-use change has caused species richness to decline by approximately 8.1% on average globally, mainly as a result of large increases in croplands and pastures. See Article p.45

News & Views | | Nature

How much more of Earth's fossil fuels can we extract and burn in the short- to medium-term future and still avoid severe global warming? A model provides the answer, and shows where these 'unburnable' reserves are. See Letter p.187

News & Views | | Nature

An experiment studying people's willingness to sacrifice personal gains so that resources are passed to future generations shows that this occurs only when extractions by free-riders are curbed by majority rule. See Letter p.220

News & Views | | Nature

The ultimate goal of the solar-cell industry is to make inexpensive devices that are highly efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. The advent of perovskite semiconductors could be the key to reaching this goal. See Letter p.395

News & Views | | Nature

The conversion of poor-quality arable lands to grassland has prevented soil erosion and sequestered carbon. A study finds that greenhouse gases will be emitted if these lands return to cultivation, especially if they are ploughed.

News & Views | | Nature

An innovative use of catch statistics shows that climate change has already influenced the composition of species in fisheries around the world, and thereby the fish that we eat. See Letter p.365

News & Views | | Nature

An analysis shows that fuel made from wild, herbaceous vegetation grown on land currently unsuitable for cultivating field crops could contribute substantially to the United States' targets for biofuel production. See Letter p.514

News & Views | | Nature

Margaret Catley-Carlson is invigorated by a brace of books on the future of world water supplies.

Books & Arts | | Nature

From concrete to plastics, the megatonnes of stuff in the built environment are mostly manufactured and used with little thought for waste and pollution. Radical moves are afoot to refashion the urban fabric.

Books & Arts | | Nature