Browse Articles

  • Author Correction |

    • Andrew Balmford
    • , Tatsuya Amano
    • , Harriet Bartlett
    • , Dave Chadwick
    • , Adrian Collins
    • , David Edwards
    • , Rob Field
    • , Philip Garnsworthy
    • , Rhys Green
    • , Pete Smith
    • , Helen Waters
    • , Andrew Whitmore
    • , Donald M. Broom
    • , Julian Chara
    • , Tom Finch
    • , Emma Garnett
    • , Alfred Gathorne-Hardy
    • , Juan Hernandez-Medrano
    • , Mario Herrero
    • , Fangyuan Hua
    • , Agnieszka Latawiec
    • , Tom Misselbrook
    • , Ben Phalan
    • , Benno I. Simmons
    • , Taro Takahashi
    • , James Vause
    • , Erasmus zu Ermgassen
    •  & Rowan Eisner
  • Analysis |

    Large-scale offshore wind turbines require rare-earth metals with a limited natural supply. This study addresses the neodymium material requirements needed to meet substantial electric generating capacity in the United States and estimates how much could be reused from decommissioned turbines.

    • Tomer Fishman
    •  & T. E. Graedel
  • Author Correction |

    • Rosemary Hill
    • , Guiomar Nates-Parra
    • , José Javier G. Quezada-Euán
    • , Damayanti Buchori
    • , Gretchen LeBuhn
    • , Marcia M. Maués
    • , Petina L. Pert
    • , Peter K Kwapong
    • , Shafqat Saeed
    • , Sara J Breslow
    • , Manuela Carneiro da Cunha
    • , Lynn V. Dicks
    • , Leonardo Galetto
    • , Mary Gikungu
    • , Brad G. Howlett
    • , Vera L. Imperatriz-Fonseca
    • , Phil O’B. Lyver
    • , Berta Martín-López
    • , Elisa Oteros-Rozas
    • , Simon G. Potts
    •  & Marie Roué
  • Article |

    Shipments of natural resources and goods connect distant regions but sometimes move more than their intended cargo. This study models the growth of the global shipping network and the implications for spreading invasive species in a changing climate, forecasting substantial increases in ship movements and a 3- to 20-fold increase in invasion risk in coming decades.

    • Anthony Sardain
    • , Erik Sardain
    •  & Brian Leung
  • News & Views |

    Bee keeping is on the rise in cities. Beehive products can be used to trace the source and transport of metal contaminants by studying one of our favourite food stuffs — honey.

    • Mark Patrick Taylor
  • Q&A |

    Joyeeta Gupta, professor of development at the University of Amsterdam, and Paul Ekins, professor of resource policy at University College London, are co-chairs of United Nations Environment’s sixth Global Environment Outlook: Healthy Planet, Healthy People. They talk to Nature Sustainability about drafting the new report.

    • Ryan Scarrow
  • Editorial |

    Developing a culture of innovation is critical to a successful sustainable development strategy.

  • Analysis |

    Pollinators are integral to ecosystem functions and human wellbeing, yet conservation approaches often ignore indigenous and biocultural perspectives and practices. This Analysis uses the IPBES framework to categorize biocultural practices and identify policies to support their roles in pollinator conservation.

    • Rosemary Hill
    • , Guiomar Nates-Parra
    • , José Javier G. Quezada-Euán
    • , Damayanti Buchori
    • , Gretchen LeBuhn
    • , Marcia M. Maués
    • , Petina L. Pert
    • , Peter K Kwapong
    • , Shafqat Saeed
    • , Sara J Breslow
    • , Manuela Carneiro da Cunha
    • , Lynn V. Dicks
    • , Leonardo Galetto
    • , Mary Gikungu
    • , Brad G. Howlett
    • , Vera L. Imperatriz-Fonseca
    • , Phil O’B. Lyver
    • , Berta Martín-López
    • , Elisa Oteros-Rozas
    • , Simon G. Potts
    •  & Marie Roué
  • News & Views |

    Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can influence each other positively or negatively. Climate change, inequalities and irresponsible consumption and production currently stand in the way of meeting the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    • Prajal Pradhan
  • Analysis |

    Honey can be used as a biomonitor to determine the source and fate of heavy metal pollutants in cities. This study analyses lead isotopes and trace element concentrations in honey from six geographical sectors in Vancouver, Canada. It finds that hives in the downtown sector of the city, near the Port of Vancouver, produced honey with elevated trace element concentrations and less radiogenic Pb isotopic compositions.

    • Kate E. Smith
    • , Dominique Weis
    • , Marghaleray Amini
    • , Alyssa E. Shiel
    • , Vivian W.-M. Lai
    •  & Kathy Gordon
  • Comment |

    The development of sewer systems hasn’t caught up with the urbanization speed in developing countries, with serious consequences for urban river water quality. The experience of urban river restoration in China can offer useful lessons to other countries in the Global South.

    • Zuxin Xu
    • , Jin Xu
    • , Hailong Yin
    • , Wei Jin
    • , Huaizheng Li
    •  & Zhen He
  • Article |

    Despite Antarctica’s reputation for being pristine, the construction and footprint of research stations and activities favours its relatively small regions without ice. This study uses GIS mapping of satellite imagery to quantify the extent of these impacts and finds that they impact more than half of all large coastal ice-free areas.

    • Shaun T. Brooks
    • , Julia Jabour
    • , John van den Hoff
    •  & Dana M. Bergstrom
  • Analysis |

    Water-use efficiency in the production of food must not only take into account quantities and yields, but also the nutrients and dietary impacts. Animal and plant foods show little difference in this demand efficiency, and best serve as complimentary rather than substitutable foods.

    • Kerstin Damerau
    • , Katharina Waha
    •  & Mario Herrero
  • Article |

    Biodiversity enhances the resilience of ecosystems to environmental change. This study uses an agent-based model seeded with data from Swiss mountain-farming communities to show that the diversity of actors, such as farmers, enhances the resilience of social-environmental systems to economic and climate change.

    • Adrienne Grêt-Regamey
    • , Sibyl H. Huber
    •  & Robert Huber
  • Review Article |

    The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and other high-level agreements acknowledge the linked nature of social and biophysical systems. This Review explains one research tradition, sociometabolic research, that explores these links. Sociometabolic research uses methods from systems science and allied areas to study the biophysical basis of economic activity. The authors use tangible examples from recent research to demonstrate strengths and weaknesses and then explore future directions.

    • Helmut Haberl
    • , Dominik Wiedenhofer
    • , Stefan Pauliuk
    • , Fridolin Krausmann
    • , Daniel B. Müller
    •  & Marina Fischer-Kowalski
  • News & Views |

    Growing populations and climate change place new demands on agriculture. Intensive farming in ancient Hawai‘i demonstrates efficient and resilient land allocation.

    • Noa Kekuewa Lincoln
  • Article |

    Water constraints can affect plans to expand electricity capacity. This study shows that in the United States such constraints can increase the cost of electricity generation with slightly reduced electrification of end-use sectors, and can incentivize early retirement of water-intensive technologies.

    • Lu Liu
    • , Mohamad Hejazi
    • , Gokul Iyer
    •  & Barton A. Forman
  • Article |

    Air pollution harms human and ecosystem health and challenges sustainable development accompanying industrial activity. Winter air pollution in Delhi is extreme, and most assume that this megacity and others create their own pollution. This study uses new methods to fingerprint this pollution, finding that rural crop and wood burning contribute substantially to Delhi’s winter haze.

    • Srinivas Bikkina
    • , August Andersson
    • , Elena N. Kirillova
    • , Henry Holmstrand
    • , Suresh Tiwari
    • , A. K. Srivastava
    • , D. S. Bisht
    •  & Örjan Gustafsson
  • Article |

    Indigenous agroecosystems often balance food production with environmental concerns better than industrial approaches, but they are rarely considered for meeting modern food needs. This study uses spatial models and climate scenarios to find indigenous production in Hawaiʻi’s past could meet significant population demands then and, potentially, now, but with lower capacity in the warmest end-of-century scenario.

    • Natalie Kurashima
    • , Lucas Fortini
    •  & Tamara Ticktin
  • Analysis |

    Various battery recycling processes exist, but the related environmental and economic implications can vary by specific battery chemistry. This study examines the greenhouse gas emissions, energy inputs and costs associated with producing and recycling lithium-ion cells with different cathode chemistries.

    • Rebecca E. Ciez
    •  & J. F. Whitacre
  • Editorial |

    Transforming human systems to achieve sustainability calls for holistic evidence of their multiple and interconnected facets.

  • Article |

    Since the early 1980s, remotely sensed data has shown the Earth to be slowly greening. Climate change, CO2 fertilization and land-use change are competing explanations. Using satellite data from 2000–2017, this study finds striking greening of both China and India, driven primarily by land-use change, with forest growth and cropland intensification more important in China and cropland more important in India.

    • Chi Chen
    • , Taejin Park
    • , Xuhui Wang
    • , Shilong Piao
    • , Baodong Xu
    • , Rajiv K. Chaturvedi
    • , Richard Fuchs
    • , Victor Brovkin
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Rasmus Fensholt
    • , Hans Tømmervik
    • , Govindasamy Bala
    • , Zaichun Zhu
    • , Ramakrishna R. Nemani
    •  & Ranga B. Myneni
  • Perspective |

    Sand and gravel have become important commodities due to infrastructure and coastal protection schemes, leading to shortages on a global level. This Perspective looks at how Greenland could diversify its economy towards export of its sand resources and the potential impacts on the environment and local way of life.

    • Mette Bendixen
    • , Irina Overeem
    • , Minik T. Rosing
    • , Anders Anker Bjørk
    • , Kurt H. Kjær
    • , Aart Kroon
    • , Gavin Zeitz
    •  & Lars Lønsmann Iversen
  • Perspective |

    Effectively managing natural capital and its associated ecosystem services is difficult given that the effects of most actions depend on the wider environmental conditions. This Perspective presents an analytical framework that allows identifying why and where management actions can best enhance natural capital.

    • Rebecca Spake
    • , Chloe Bellamy
    • , Laura J. Graham
    • , Kevin Watts
    • , Tom Wilson
    • , Lisa R. Norton
    • , Claire M. Wood
    • , Reto Schmucki
    • , James M. Bullock
    •  & Felix Eigenbrod
  • Analysis |

    Water utilities worldwide are diversifying their portfolios of water supplies to smooth growing variation in water availability. This simulation finds that the option of engaging in an open water-trading scheme in the San Francisco Bay Area could promote regional resiliency and lowers costs.

    • P. Gonzales
    •  & N. K. Ajami
  • Comment |

    Garrett Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons put forward underdeveloped arguments that continue to be reflected in simplistic debates about the drivers and implications of demographic dynamics. It’s time to embrace the complexity that Hardin lacked in order to develop better-informed policy.

    • Lori M. Hunter
    •  & Aseem Prakash
  • News & Views |

    Commercial aircraft rely on liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Short-range all-electric aircraft have promise to reduce environmental impacts while remaining cost-competitive; however, they will require significant battery improvements.

    • Venkatasubramanian Viswanathan
    •  & B. Matthew Knapp
  • Article |

    Coal power generation contributes greenhouse gas and toxic air pollution worldwide. This study provides the most comprehensive analysis of such air pollution, analysing data on 7,861 coal-generating units and their supply chains. China, the United States, India, Germany and Russia contribute the most, and pollutant exposure risks are highest in India and China, but for differing reasons.

    • C. Oberschelp
    • , S. Pfister
    • , C. E. Raptis
    •  & S. Hellweg
  • Article |

    Per-capita freight in the United States has been increasing in recent decades. This study presents projections to 2050 to examine the emissions, and health and climate impacts of US freight truck and rail transportation under various policy scenarios.

    • Liang Liu
    • , Taesung Hwang
    • , Sungwon Lee
    • , Yanfeng Ouyang
    • , Bumsoo Lee
    • , Steven J. Smith
    • , Christopher W. Tessum
    • , Julian D. Marshall
    • , Fang Yan
    • , Kathryn Daenzer
    •  & Tami C. Bond
  • Comment |

    In order to address sustainability challenges, we posit that knowledge generation needs to move rapidly from a disciplinary linear ‘tree’ model to an interdisciplinary ‘web’ model. We show how such a shift is useful by looking at case studies in the context of water management.

    • Junguo Liu
    • , Kamaljit S. Bawa
    • , Thomas P. Seager
    • , Ganquan Mao
    • , Ding Ding
    • , Janice Ser Huay Lee
    •  & Janet K. Swim
  • Analysis |

    An integrated assessment of global crop, livestock and aquaculture production, and fisheries landings over 53 years shows how shocks created in one food sector can spill over into multiple sectors, and which regions are shock hotspots.

    • Richard S. Cottrell
    • , Kirsty L. Nash
    • , Benjamin S. Halpern
    • , Tomas A. Remenyi
    • , Stuart P. Corney
    • , Aysha Fleming
    • , Elizabeth A. Fulton
    • , Sara Hornborg
    • , Alexandra Johne
    • , Reg A. Watson
    •  & Julia L. Blanchard
  • News & Views |

    Land-use planning to protect tropical forests requires understanding the relative impact of alternative uses. Low-impact forest management is crucial to produce timber while conserving biodiversity.

    • Frits Mohren
  • Editorial |

    Designing policies to maintain human wellbeing within the limits of planet Earth is a daunting task, but scholars and policymakers should embrace the challenge now.

  • Analysis |

    The rooftop photovoltaics (PV) industry in the United States has grown significantly, but little is known about any racial and ethnic disparity in PV adoption. This study compares the adoption of rooftop PV across census areas grouped by racial and ethnic majority. It finds that in census areas that have predominantly black or Hispanic people, average rooftop PV installation is significantly lower.

    • Deborah A. Sunter
    • , Sergio Castellanos
    •  & Daniel M. Kammen
  • Review Article |

    The value of ecosystem services in cities around the world is highly uncertain. This Review focuses on ten of the most commonly cited urban ecosystem services and presents a synthesis of the scholarship on the factors that moderate the value and equitable distribution of such services.

    • Bonnie L. Keeler
    • , Perrine Hamel
    • , Timon McPhearson
    • , Maike H. Hamann
    • , Marie L. Donahue
    • , Kelly A. Meza Prado
    • , Katie K. Arkema
    • , Gregory N. Bratman
    • , Kate A. Brauman
    • , Jacques C. Finlay
    • , Anne D. Guerry
    • , Sarah E. Hobbie
    • , Justin A. Johnson
    • , Graham K. MacDonald
    • , Robert I. McDonald
    • , Nick Neverisky
    •  & Spencer A. Wood
  • Brief Communication |

    Waste plastic can be converted into a potential fuel source using a new nano-scale catalyst. This catalyst has well-defined and uniform surface openings, so it needs only one step to convert low-density polyethylene into a gasoline-type product.

    • Zheng Zhang
    • , Kinga Gora-Marek
    • , Jonathan S. Watson
    • , Jinsen Tian
    • , Matthew R. Ryder
    • , Karolina A. Tarach
    • , Lidia López-Pérez
    • , Joaquin Martínez-Triguero
    •  & Ignacio Melián-Cabrera
  • Perspective |

    Transgressing planetary boundaries has generated global, ongoing and interconnected problems that represent a real challenge to policy makers. This Perspective sheds light on the complexities of designing policies that can keep human life within the biophysical limits of planet Earth.

    • Thomas Sterner
    • , Edward B. Barbier
    • , Ian Bateman
    • , Inge van den Bijgaart
    • , Anne-Sophie Crépin
    • , Ottmar Edenhofer
    • , Carolyn Fischer
    • , Wolfgang Habla
    • , John Hassler
    • , Olof Johansson-Stenman
    • , Andreas Lange
    • , Stephen Polasky
    • , Johan Rockström
    • , Henrik G. Smith
    • , Will Steffen
    • , Gernot Wagner
    • , James E. Wilen
    • , Francisco Alpízar
    • , Christian Azar
    • , Donna Carless
    • , Carlos Chávez
    • , Jessica Coria
    • , Gustav Engström
    • , Sverker C. Jagers
    • , Gunnar Köhlin
    • , Åsa Löfgren
    • , Håkan Pleijel
    •  & Amanda Robinson
  • Perspective |

    Since the 1990s, global agricultural output has been driven largely by innovations that raised the efficiency of using labour, land and other inputs, together called total factor productivity (TFP). This Perspective discusses this reality and suggests two pathways for future growth: technology-based and ecosystem-based. Future research on farm-system sustainability and resilience should leverage these options.

    • Oliver T. Coomes
    • , Bradford L. Barham
    • , Graham K. MacDonald
    • , Navin Ramankutty
    •  & Jean-Paul Chavas