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  • News & Views |

    Models typically used to analyse climate–economy interactions have paradoxically ignored much of nature’s value. A new study explicitly addresses this issue and reveals feedback loops between nature and the climate system that make climate change more costly.

    • Matthew Agarwala
    •  & Diane Coyle
  • News & Views |

    Construction along coasts and offshore is accelerating. A new study estimates the extent of different developments and their wider influence and forecasts their expansion.

    • Stephen J. Hawkins
    • , Louise B. Firth
    •  & Ally J. Evans
  • News & Views |

    Reports on the widespread presence of plastic particles in the environment have raised concerns about whether these particles could be taken up by plants and end up on our plates. An experimental study now reveals a mechanism through which nanoplastics can make their way into plant roots.

    • Matthias C. Rillig
  • News & Views |

    Political pressure on the creation and use of scientific evidence to support environmental approvals for the Adani coal mine has undermined the legitimacy of these approvals. We need to harness the power of law more effectively to protect the independence and rigour of scientific processes, and enable transparent consideration of the evidence.

    • Erin O’Donnell
    •  & Rebecca Nelson
  • News & Views |

    In a world of increasingly integrated supply chains, disasters have impacts far from where they hit. A new paper looks at how tropical-cyclone impacts propagate across cities, showing that indirect impacts become large for the most-destructive storms.

    • Stephane Hallegatte
  • News & Views |

    Large hydropower infrastructure is being built along environmentally sensitive tropical rivers. An analysis in Amazonia shows that climate change and forest cover must be considered when planning hydropower infrastructure.

    • Marcos Heil Costa
  • News & Views |

    Can economic growth be made greener, or must we look beyond growth to achieve sustainability? An important new study shows that the pursuit of ‘green growth’ would increase inequality and unemployment unless accompanied by radical social policies.

    • Daniel W. O’Neill
  • News & Views |

    Increasing pressure for communities to conserve wildlife in mixtures with livestock faces scepticism about whether such management is sustainable. The study by Sitters et al. shows that wildlife–livestock coexistence may be sustainable, but only if megaherbivores are included.

    • Mark E. Ritchie
  • News & Views |

    The Sustainable Development Goals elegantly capture humanity’s shared aspirations, but it’s at the national level where the rubber hits the road. Progress is possible across multiple goals but challenges to comprehensive achievement remain.

    • Brett A. Bryan
    • , Michalis Hadjikakou
    •  & Enayat A. Moallemi
  • News & Views |

    Phosphorus recovery is as important for closing the phosphorus cycle as its discovery 350 years ago was for food production. A new analysis highlights costs and benefits of creating value from the wastes generated by our food systems and modern lifestyles.

    • Paul J. A. Withers
  • News & Views |

    Lack of good-quality monitoring and evaluation data is a key barrier to large-scale uptake of agriculture interventions. Data from low-cost microsatellites have a strong potential to bridge this gap and promote sustainable intensification targets.

    • Jadunandan Dash
  • News & Views |

    Fisheries conservation requires restricting access to countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs), which is costly to monitor and enforce. A new analysis shows that unauthorized foreign fishing is indeed substantially lower just inside the EEZ boundary compared with just outside.

    • Scott Barrett
  • News & Views |

    Animal movements are essential to the economic health of livestock production, but are also a threat to it by promoting disease spread. New research suggests a way towards obtaining an appropriate balance between both aspects in the design of control policies.

    • Guillaume Fournié
    •  & Dirk U. Pfeiffer
  • News & Views |

    Natural disasters affect supply chains in complex ways that traditional economic models at the sector level cannot capture. An agent-based model representing firm-to-firm interactions demonstrates that these interactions magnify the economic cost of disasters.

    • Stephane Hallegatte
  • News & Views |

    Co-locating solar panels and crops reduces competition for land between energy and food production. In addition, these agrivoltaic systems create positive synergistic relationships between crops and solar panels.

    • Hélène Marrou
  • News & Views |

    Dam removal is becoming an increasingly common tool to restore rivers. What would it take to replace lost electricity from removed hydroelectric dams with solar power?

    • Jeffrey J. Duda
  • News & Views |

    Meat is an important source of greenhouse-gas emissions, but not enough people are giving it up. A new model integrates diets, land use and climate change to explore the potential and implications of mass adoption of vegetarian diets.

    • Jonathan M. Gilligan
  • News & Views |

    Radiative cooling can be used to reduce building air-conditioning requirements. In urban environments, nearby buildings partially block access to the sky, which hinders radiative cooling, but a thermal beam-shaping design can help solve this problem.

    • Ronggui Yang
    •  & Xiaobo Yin
  • News & Views |

    The conservation of Boswellia papyrifera, a dryland tree from the Horn of Africa and a source of frankincense, conflicts with growing use. A new study finds impending collapse of this iconic tree throughout its range, prioritizing the need to restrict uncontrolled tapping and cattle herding.

    • Bart Muys
  • News & Views |

    Aquifers and groundwater resources are a critical lifeline for billions of people. Drilling deeper wells is one adaptive strategy to lower groundwater, but uncertainty plagues every aspect of dynamic aquifer systems.

    • Brian F. Thomas
  • News & Views |

    The long-term role of mountains as water providers to lowlands is threatened by shrinking glaciers due to anthropogenic climate change. Modelling this dependence and uncovering past indigenous responses can inform adaptive responses.

    • Julio C. Postigo
  • News & Views |

    Understanding how individuals shift to diets with much smaller ecological footprints may help us in persuading more people to change their habits and transition to more sustainable food systems. Online interactions provide important answers.

    • Christoph Trattner
    •  & David Elsweiler
  • News & Views |

    Indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) is critical for conservation. Yet, gaps in published research on ILK might bias assessments that largely rely on it. Such fragmented documentation calls for alternative approaches to bring ILK into conservation.

    • Victoria Reyes-García
    •  & Petra Benyei
  • News & Views |

    Fairtrade and other voluntary sustainability standards are increasingly common in the food sector. Evidence shows that the benefits of such standards on the poorest people are minimal.

    • Miet Maertens
  • News & Views |

    It has long been observed that roads clear the way to deforestation in the tropics. Viewing deforestation scars in the Congo Basin from space, we can now model the impact roads have both inside and outside logging concessions.

    • Stéphane Couturier
  • News & Views |

    Ecosystem-service assessments often fail to account for groundwater’s role in the ecosystem. Whether groundwater is important for these services depends strongly on the assessment scale and the local context.

    • P. James Dennedy-Frank
  • News & Views |

    The Millennium Development Goal target 7c, to halve the proportion of the global population without access to safe drinking water by 2015, is the first international drinking water target ever met. Understanding how this was achieved is critical to replicating success.

    • Mark Everard
  • News & Views |

    Protected areas, such as parks and marine reserves, are a vital conservation tools. A new study models the trade-offs between using limited resources for acquiring new protected areas and managing existing ones.

    • Donald L. DeAngelis
  • News & Views |

    How people respond to sustainability challenges is crucial. New findings suggest that when individuals adopt one pro-environmental behaviour, this might affect whether or not they engage in other, related behaviours.

    • Wokje Abrahamse
  • News & Views |

    In many countries, it is difficult for government agencies to know where animal farms are located. Using satellite imaging and deep learning provides a new, effective, accurate and low-cost approach for detecting these facilities.

    • Francesc X. Prenafeta-Boldú
    •  & Andreas Kamilaris
  • News & Views |

    The world’s food system is complex, highly interconnected and rapidly evolving. Attendant risks are poorly understood. A new study reveals important insight into how interconnectedness, structure and modularity of the global food network impact system resilience.

    • Michael J. Puma
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • News & Views |

    Biofuels became controversial for compromising food production. Forest residue conversion to jet fuel is a second-generation biofuel that doesn’t compete with food. However, it has unexpected implications across the Sustainable Development Goals.

    • Sgouris Sgouridis
  • News & Views |

    Analyses of protein in our future food supply have focused on the need to reduce animal-based foods and increase plant-based foods. A new analysis describes a parallel possibility — producing and consuming less-considered options, including insect larva, algae and cultured meat.

    • Michael W. Hamm
  • News & Views |

    Behind pressing scientific questions of sustainability, unexplored areas of theoretical and mathematical knowledge await discovery. A fresh take on the notion of resilience provides a glimpse of what to expect.

    • Axel G. Rossberg
  • News & Views |

    Current understanding is that electricity savings in green commercial buildings are low or even negligible. New research, based on a sophisticated analysis of detailed energy data, proves that they do save energy, decrease environmental damage and reduce peak electricity demand.

    • Matthaios Santamouris
  • News & Views |

    Are we making the best use of data in our efforts to protect the natural environment? A new study suggests that we could be doing much better.

    • Louie Rivers III
  • News & Views |

    A reliable power supply in developing countries can help socio-economic development efforts. Now research shows that it would also avoid significant environmental impacts.

    • Steven J. Davis
    •  & Jay Taneja
  • News & Views |

    Livestock production can pose challenges for populations of large wild mammals. Conservation failure isn’t a foregone conclusion, however, if integrated management for ranching and for wildlife benefits both.

    • Jacob R. Goheen
  • News & Views |

    Geoengineering is unproven and risky. Social science scholars explain why some are still investing in and pursuing geoengineering to address climate change, and the consequences this has for alternatives.

    • Jennifer E. Givens
  • News & Views |

    A grand plan to devote half the planet to nature could create conflicts with farming. A global analysis locates the countries and ecoregions where scaling up habitat protection will be most difficult.

    • Benjamin T. Phalan
  • News & Views |

    Renewable energies are on the rise worldwide, but they have to compete against established fossil energies. Lifting import tariffs on selected inputs for renewables can foster the transition to these energies.

    • Sebastian Strunz
  • News & Views |

    Systems thinking has been promoted as a way to improve human–environmental interactions, but analytical approaches to measure degrees of systems thinking remain elusive. If more complex thinking does improve sustainable decision-making, new methods to validate this prevalent hypothesis must be developed.

    • Steven Gray
  • News & Views |

    At the global scale, indigenous lands are critical for biodiversity conservation and cultural survival. Yet at local, sub-national and national scales both are often threatened.

    • Richard Howitt