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  • Article |

    The most-efficient solar cells use Pb-based halide perovskites; however, their toxicity poses environmental and health risks. Here, the authors report an adsorbent that allows for sustainable Pb management in these devices.

    • So Yeon Park
    • , Ji-Sang Park
    • , Byeong Jo Kim
    • , Hyemin Lee
    • , Aron Walsh
    • , Kai Zhu
    • , Dong Hoe Kim
    •  & Hyun Suk Jung
  • Article |

    The presence of microplastics in wastewaters used for irrigation highlights the urgency of analysing the possible uptake of microplastics by crop plants. This study shows that submicrometre and micrometre plastic particles from treated wastewater enter the steles of crop plants via a crack entry at sites of lateral root emergence.

    • Lianzhen Li
    • , Yongming Luo
    • , Ruijie Li
    • , Qian Zhou
    • , Willie J. G. M. Peijnenburg
    • , Na Yin
    • , Jie Yang
    • , Chen Tu
    •  & Yunchao Zhang
  • Article |

    Solar-driven interfacial evaporation can be a sustainable process to obtain clean water but device efficiency and simplicity need improving. This study presents a super-wicking and super-light-absorbing aluminium surface with increased efficiency, a simple structure and strong performance.

    • Subhash C. Singh
    • , Mohamed ElKabbash
    • , Zilong Li
    • , Xiaohan Li
    • , Bhabesh Regmi
    • , Matthew Madsen
    • , Sohail A. Jalil
    • , Zhibing Zhan
    • , Jihua Zhang
    •  & Chunlei Guo
  • Article |

    Runoff from mountain water sources is critical to some lowland populations. In this Article, these populations are projected to increase from 0.2 billion people in the 1960s to 1.5 billion by mid-century.

    • Daniel Viviroli
    • , Matti Kummu
    • , Michel Meybeck
    • , Marko Kallio
    •  & Yoshihide Wada
  • Article |

    Moral concerns matter for decisions in markets where activities generate negative externalities such as pollution emissions. With controlled experiments in which trading creates pollution, this study shows that a large portion of producers refrain from polluting even at the cost of forgoing profits.

    • Axel Ockenfels
    • , Peter Werner
    •  & Ottmar Edenhofer
  • Article |

    Air pollution harms health but rises with economic activity, which aids health. This study uses long-range Saharan dust to isolate impacts, finding a significant rise in Sub-Saharan infant mortality from particulate pollution.

    • Sam Heft-Neal
    • , Jennifer Burney
    • , Eran Bendavid
    • , Kara K. Voss
    •  & Marshall Burke
  • Article |

    Global responses of crops to warmer temperatures will affect agricultural sustainability. This study of maize, rice, soybean and wheat projects yield reductions of 3–13% under 2 °C warming.

    • Xuhui Wang
    • , Chuang Zhao
    • , Christoph Müller
    • , Chenzhi Wang
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Ivan Janssens
    • , Josep Peñuelas
    • , Senthold Asseng
    • , Tao Li
    • , Joshua Elliott
    • , Yao Huang
    • , Laurent Li
    •  & Shilong Piao
  • Article |

    After forest loss, public subsidies often encourage reforestation with tree plantations. This modelling study finds that between 1986 and 2011, Chile’s forest subsidies probably reduced biodiversity without increasing carbon stored in aboveground plant material.

    • Robert Heilmayr
    • , Cristian Echeverría
    •  & Eric F. Lambin
  • Article |

    Forest planting is considered a natural climate solution, but effects on soil carbon are unclear. This study, in northern China, finds that planting forests increases carbon in soils poor in it and vice versa.

    • Songbai Hong
    • , Guodong Yin
    • , Shilong Piao
    • , Ray Dybzinski
    • , Nan Cong
    • , Xiangyi Li
    • , Kai Wang
    • , Josep Peñuelas
    • , Hui Zeng
    •  & Anping Chen
  • Article |

    Air pollution and dust can reduce photovoltaic electricity generation. This study shows that, without cleaning and with precipitation-only removal, particulate matter can reduce photovoltaic generation in polluted and desert regions by more than 50%, with soiling being the major cause of reduction.

    • Xiaoyuan Li
    • , Denise L. Mauzerall
    •  & Mike H. Bergin
  • Article |

    Ethnographic and anthropological records of 91 societies show that chronic resource scarcity and environmental unpredictability are linked to higher subsistence diversity and resilience.

    • Carol R. Ember
    • , Erik J. Ringen
    • , Jack Dunnington
    •  & Emily Pitek
  • Article |

    A smart management of hydropower, combined with solar and wind energy, can provide the flexibility needed to power West Africa and at cheaper cost than using natural gas, according to a simulation model.

    • Sebastian Sterl
    • , Inne Vanderkelen
    • , Celray James Chawanda
    • , Daniel Russo
    • , Robert J. Brecha
    • , Ann van Griensven
    • , Nicole P. M. van Lipzig
    •  & Wim Thiery
  • Article |

    Natural disasters can obstruct first responders when and where they are needed most. This analysis models the response of emergency service stations during flooding events in England to find major impacts on ambulance and fire services at a time of escalating flood risks to the country.

    • Dapeng Yu
    • , Jie Yin
    • , Robert L. Wilby
    • , Stuart N. Lane
    • , Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts
    • , Ning Lin
    • , Min Liu
    • , Hongyong Yuan
    • , Jianguo Chen
    • , Christel Prudhomme
    • , Mingfu Guan
    • , Avinoam Baruch
    • , Charlie W. D. Johnson
    • , Xi Tang
    • , Lizhong Yu
    •  & Shiyuan Xu
  • Article |

    Biomass pyrolysis for renewable energy and chemicals offers sustainability advantages but is expensive. This study shows a route to improve both the sustainability and economic viability of biomass pyrolysis by using pyrolytic gases and waste heat to fabricate high-quality carbon nanomaterials.

    • Shun Zhang
    • , Shun-Feng Jiang
    • , Bao-Cheng Huang
    • , Xian-Cheng Shen
    • , Wen-Jing Chen
    • , Tian-Pei Zhou
    • , Hui-Yuan Cheng
    • , Bin-Hai Cheng
    • , Chang-Zheng Wu
    • , Wen-Wei Li
    • , Hong Jiang
    •  & Han-Qing Yu
  • Article |

    Photovoltaic panel conversion generates heat that reduces the energy efficiency and lifetime of the panel. A photovoltaic panel cooling strategy by a sorption-based atmospheric water harvester is shown to improve the productivity of electricity generation with important sustainability advantages.

    • Renyuan Li
    • , Yusuf Shi
    • , Mengchun Wu
    • , Seunghyun Hong
    •  & Peng Wang
  • Article |

    The long-term impacts on mortality risks of exposure to disasters have not been analysed. Using data from Indonesia collected before and after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, this study examines the effects of the disaster on mortality risks of survivors over the subsequent ten years.

    • Elizabeth Frankenberg
    • , Cecep Sumantri
    •  & Duncan Thomas
  • Article |

    Transforming the energy system to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2100 is vital to fight climate change. This target can be achieved in California, USA, by 2050—alongside air quality benefits especially in disadvantaged communities—by using bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration.

    • Tianyang Wang
    • , Zhe Jiang
    • , Bin Zhao
    • , Yu Gu
    • , Kuo-Nan Liou
    • , Nesamani Kalandiyur
    • , Da Zhang
    •  & Yifang Zhu
  • Article |

    Water and wastewater infrastructure worldwide faces unprecedented challenges. A new model can assess the environmental and economic implications of a hybrid water supply system that provides a centralized surface water supply with distributed direct potable reuse of municipal wastewater.

    • Lu Liu
    • , Evan Lopez
    • , Leonardo Dueñas-Osorio
    • , Lauren Stadler
    • , Yuefeng Xie
    • , Pedro J. J. Alvarez
    •  & Qilin Li
  • Article |

    Agriculture has a massive and growing footprint. This study finds that optimizing fertilizer and major crops globally could reduce by 50% needed global cropland, allowing restored vegetation on spared land to sequester carbon.

    • Christian Folberth
    • , Nikolay Khabarov
    • , Juraj Balkovič
    • , Rastislav Skalský
    • , Piero Visconti
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Ivan A. Janssens
    • , Josep Peñuelas
    •  & Michael Obersteiner
  • Article |

    The effect of education on climate change risks is integral to the relation between climate and development, but difficult to quantify. This article finds potential increases in emissions as well as HDI values due to improved educational attainment in developing countries.

    • Brian C. O’Neill
    • , Leiwen Jiang
    • , Samir KC
    • , Regina Fuchs
    • , Shonali Pachauri
    • , Emily K. Laidlaw
    • , Tiantian Zhang
    • , Wei Zhou
    •  & Xiaolin Ren
  • Article |

    Cleaner hydrogen production can help energy sustainability. The use of yeast biomass-derived materials to develop efficient, eco-friendly and economical catalysts—compared with industrially adopted catalysts—is shown to improve hydrogen production as a strategy towards a sustainable energy system.

    • Jitendra N. Tiwari
    • , Ngoc Kim Dang
    • , Siraj Sultan
    • , Pandiarajan Thangavel
    • , Hu Young Jeong
    •  & Kwang S. Kim
  • Article |

    Carbon use often tracks economic development. This study finds the top 5% of Chinese households by income have 17% of the nation’s carbon ‘footprint’ in 2012 but that such inequality declined with China’s economic growth.

    • Zhifu Mi
    • , Jiali Zheng
    • , Jing Meng
    • , Jiamin Ou
    • , Klaus Hubacek
    • , Zhu Liu
    • , D’Maris Coffman
    • , Nicholas Stern
    • , Sai Liang
    •  & Yi-Ming Wei
  • Article |

    Natural disaster risk assessments neglect impacts on households’ well-being. A model to quantify disaster impacts more equitably shows that, in a hypothetical earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area, poorer households suffer 19% of the asset losses but 41% of the well-being losses.

    • Maryia Markhvida
    • , Brian Walsh
    • , Stephane Hallegatte
    •  & Jack Baker
  • Article |

    Synthetic detergents are environmentally damaging and eco-friendly alternatives would help reduce environmental impacts. This study shows a more sustainable detergent, based on cellulose nanospheres obtained from agricultural waste corncob, with strong cleaning performance and low toxicity.

    • Bin Liu
    • , Tao Li
    • , Wenya Wang
    • , Leonard M. C. Sagis
    • , Qipeng Yuan
    • , Xingen Lei
    • , Martien A. Cohen Stuart
    • , Dan Li
    • , Cheng Bao
    • , Jie Bai
    • , Zhengquan Yu
    • , Fazheng Ren
    •  & Yuan Li
  • Article |

    Heat waves can pose a threat to biodiversity as heat stress kills sperm cells across the animal kingdom. Here, honey bee queens are found to be vulnerable to temperature changes and the specific stress-response proteins activated in the spermatheca are discussed as potential indicators of heat stress.

    • Alison McAfee
    • , Abigail Chapman
    • , Heather Higo
    • , Robyn Underwood
    • , Joseph Milone
    • , Leonard J. Foster
    • , M. Marta Guarna
    • , David R. Tarpy
    •  & Jeffery S. Pettis
  • Article |

    Little is known about the actual effects of electrification policies on carbon emissions. This study shows that, under current carbon intensities of electricity generation, electric cars and heat pumps are less emission intensive than fossil-fuel-based alternatives in 53 of 59 world regions.

    • Florian Knobloch
    • , Steef V. Hanssen
    • , Aileen Lam
    • , Hector Pollitt
    • , Pablo Salas
    • , Unnada Chewpreecha
    • , Mark A. J. Huijbregts
    •  & Jean-Francois Mercure
  • Article |

    A comparison of the recommended dietary guidelines in France from 2001 and 2017 finds that the updated guidelines perform better in terms of health (nutrition) and the environment (food production), albeit with a small increase in cost.

    • Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot
    • , Dan Chaltiel
    • , Juhui Wang
    • , Philippe Pointereau
    • , Brigitte Langevin
    • , Benjamin Allès
    • , Pauline Rebouillat
    • , Denis Lairon
    • , Rodolphe Vidal
    • , François Mariotti
    • , Manon Egnell
    • , Mathilde Touvier
    • , Chantal Julia
    • , Julia Baudry
    •  & Serge Hercberg
  • Article |

    A dynamic macrosimulation study of three scenarios finds that policies for social prosperity and low-carbon emissions are economically and politically feasible.

    • Simone D’Alessandro
    • , André Cieplinski
    • , Tiziano Distefano
    •  & Kristofer Dittmer
  • Article |

    The production of lithium requires the purification of lithium chloride, which is expensive and unsustainable. A new method allows the production of high-purity electrolytic lithium from low-purity lithium chloride using solid-state electrolyte, with substantial reductions in costs and environmental impacts.

    • Jialiang Lang
    • , Yang Jin
    • , Kai Liu
    • , Yuanzheng Long
    • , Haitian Zhang
    • , Longhao Qi
    • , Hui Wu
    •  & Yi Cui
  • Article |

    Water use in river basins is an age-old resource-management question, but it is rare to quantify consumption by specific sectors. The Colorado River is being overused for beef and dairy production, endangering the entire river ecosystem.

    • Brian D. Richter
    • , Dominique Bartak
    • , Peter Caldwell
    • , Kyle Frankel Davis
    • , Peter Debaere
    • , Arjen Y. Hoekstra
    • , Tianshu Li
    • , Landon Marston
    • , Ryan McManamay
    • , Mesfin M. Mekonnen
    • , Benjamin L. Ruddell
    • , Richard R. Rushforth
    •  & Tara J. Troy
  • Article |

    Physicochemical treatments of heavy-metal pollution in waste water have several environmental and structural disadvantages. This Article shows that sulfide-producing yeasts are able to remove mercury, lead and copper from real-world water samples and offer a platform for metal re-extraction.

    • George L. Sun
    • , Erin. E. Reynolds
    •  & Angela M. Belcher
  • Article |

    Two-dimensional lamellar membranes for water purification are promising but suffer from swelling that reduces their ion sieving performance in water. This study reports easy-to-fabricate, non-swelling MXene membranes prepared by the intercalation of Al3+ ions that could be scalable.

    • Li Ding
    • , Libo Li
    • , Yanchang Liu
    • , Yi Wu
    • , Zong Lu
    • , Junjie Deng
    • , Yanying Wei
    • , Jürgen Caro
    •  & Haihui Wang
  • Article |

    Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon affects both older (primary) and younger (secondary) forests. This study finds that most forest loss over the period 2008–2014 was from secondary forests and that the almost 190% rise in deforestation buffered losses from primary forests.

    • Yunxia Wang
    • , Guy Ziv
    • , Marcos Adami
    • , Cláudio Aparecido de Almeida
    • , João Francisco Gonçalves Antunes
    • , Alexandre Camargo Coutinho
    • , Júlio César Dalla Mora Esquerdo
    • , Alessandra Rodrigues Gomes
    •  & David Galbraith
  • Article |

    Modern land management often assumes that past human activity shaped iconic landscapes. This study finds that climate, rather than indigenous activity, controlled fire severity in New England, with open landscapes developing after deforestation for European agriculture.

    • W. Wyatt Oswald
    • , David R. Foster
    • , Bryan N. Shuman
    • , Elizabeth S. Chilton
    • , Dianna L. Doucette
    •  & Deena L. Duranleau
  • Article |

    Agriculture transforms the Earth and risks crossing thresholds for a healthy planet. This study finds almost half of current food production crosses such boundaries, as for freshwater use, but that transformation towards more sustainable production and consumption could support 10.2 billion people.

    • Dieter Gerten
    • , Vera Heck
    • , Jonas Jägermeyr
    • , Benjamin Leon Bodirsky
    • , Ingo Fetzer
    • , Mika Jalava
    • , Matti Kummu
    • , Wolfgang Lucht
    • , Johan Rockström
    • , Sibyll Schaphoff
    •  & Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
  • Article |

    Urbanization and economic development fuel demand for sand, used for concrete. This study finds that sediment loads are insufficient to replace the sand mined from the Mekong River delta, with mining rates high enough to make river banks unstable.

    • Christopher R. Hackney
    • , Stephen E. Darby
    • , Daniel R. Parsons
    • , Julian Leyland
    • , James L. Best
    • , Rolf Aalto
    • , Andrew P. Nicholas
    •  & Robert C. Houseago
  • Article |

    Natural resource management involves complex relationships that are affected by data and knowledge limitations. Mental modelling can harness the wisdom of a crowd of stakeholders.

    • Payam Aminpour
    • , Steven A. Gray
    • , Antonie J. Jetter
    • , Joshua E. Introne
    • , Alison Singer
    •  & Robert Arlinghaus