Research articles

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  • With a growing demand for minerals, protected areas (PAs) are under pressure to allow mining activities. This study examines the impacts of five policy scenarios under which combinations of PAs allow mining in the Brazilian Amazon, and shows the need for long-term planning to safeguard biodiversity.

    • Juliana Siqueira-Gay
    • Jean Paul Metzger
    • Laura J. Sonter
    Article
  • While fears of ‘water wars’ have been publicized in recent years, this Article illustrates the complexities surrounding resource availability and socio-political dynamics that may induce, or prevent, conflicts over water in arid landscapes.

    • Nikolas Galli
    • Jampel Dell’Angelo
    • Maria Cristina Rulli
    Article
  • Urban regions are growing rapidly worldwide, threatening surrounding habitats, including in drylands. This study finds that indirect impacts to surrounding drylands are more than ten times greater than direct impacts and that such impacted areas contain almost 60% of threatened species globally.

    • Qiang Ren
    • Chunyang He
    • Burak Güneralp
    Article
  • Recovering from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic while achieving environmental goals requires creative policy measures. This study analyses the sustainability co-benefits of reducing sugar consumption through redirecting existing sugar cropland to alternative uses via sugar taxation.

    • Lewis C. King
    • Jeroen van den Bergh
    Analysis
  • Mechanical soil decontamination is an important tool in remediating contaminated soils. Remediation efforts following the Fukushima Daiichi disaster increased soil erosion and downstream sediment loads that showed reduced 137Cs concentrations, but rapid revegetation quickly restored decontaminated landscapes.

    • Bin Feng
    • Yuichi Onda
    • Yupan Zhang
    Article Open Access
  • Biological invasions involve complex interactions between social and environmental factors, challenging effective management. This study represents the invasion of Minnesota lakes by zebra mussels as a network of interactions and finds that using network metrics can guide effective management.

    • Jaime Ashander
    • Kailin Kroetz
    • Laura E. Dee
    Article
  • Poor access to safe drinking water is a major global sustainability issue. Solar disinfection provides a feasible solution. Here the authors examine the potential of five most typical types of this technology, revealing their unique challenges and opportunities.

    • Inhyeong Jeon
    • Eric C. Ryberg
    • Jae-Hong Kim
    Analysis
  • Intensifying food production sustainably is critical given growing demand and agriculture’s environmental footprint. This meta-analysis finds that practices such as adding organic matter and increasing crop diversity can partly substitute for nitrogen fertilizer to sustain or increase yields.

    • Chloe MacLaren
    • Andrew Mead
    • Jonathan Storkey
    Article
  • Why environmental benefits are valued differently across individuals and regions is not well understood. Using large-scale survey data collected across G20 countries, this study finds that a few social indicators explain the diversity in people’s perceptions of environmental benefits.

    • Kayo Murakami
    • Norihiro Itsubo
    • Koichi Kuriyama
    Article
  • The Sustainable Development Goals were launched as a worldwide governance framework, but little is known about their actual political impacts. This study shows evidence that the Sustainable Development Goals have had largely a discursive influence and only limited transformative political impact.

    • Frank Biermann
    • Thomas Hickmann
    • Birka Wicke
    Analysis Open Access
  • If people had truly unlimited wants as assumed in economics, pursuing sustainability would be a real challenge. This study provides evidence that most people’s wants are moderate rather than unlimited, suggesting that policies limiting wealth in pursuit of sustainability could be acceptable to many.

    • Paul G. Bain
    • Renata Bongiorno
    Article
  • The importance of ensuring access to clean drinking water is manifested in UN Sustainable Development Goals. Here, a national-level assessment of tap-water safety shows spatial variations across China. The disparity is correlated with natural and anthropogenic factors and linked to public health-risk rates.

    • Mengjie Liu
    • Nigel Graham
    • Wenzheng Yu
    Article
  • Vehicles are responsible for a large share of urban air pollution, but emissions estimates omit the full driving cycle or focus on only a few vehicles. Using GPS traces, emissions from thousands of private vehicles in three European cities are estimated to identify gross polluters and grossly polluted roads.

    • Matteo Böhm
    • Mirco Nanni
    • Luca Pappalardo
    Article
  • Changes in agricultural practices have led to the expansion of tree plantations across the tropics, but this expansion is poorly characterized. Nearly 7 million unique patches of observed tree cover gain are classified through satellite imagery to report on tropical tree plantation expansion between 2000 and 2012.

    • Matthew E. Fagan
    • Do-Hyung Kim
    • Elsa M. Ordway
    Article
  • Ammonia plays a crucial role in the world’s food supply; however, its production from Haber–Bosch process features heavy CO2 emissions and energy consumption. Here the authors show a more sustainable approach to synthesize ammonia utilizing a membrane reactor.

    • Lingting Ye
    • Hao Li
    • Kui Xie
    Article
  • Anionic redox has emerged as a new frontier in the design of high-energy cathode materials for next-generation batteries. This study provides a theoretical framework to understand the trilateral correlation of oxygen redox, structural disorder and bond covalency.

    • Byunghoon Kim
    • Jun-Hyuk Song
    • Kisuk Kang
    Article
  • The increasing demand for technological products across the world pushes further the consumption of most metals, resulting in growing sustainability concerns. This study examines a yearly cohort of 61 extracted metals over time and estimates their lifetimes and losses throughout their life cycles.

    • Alexandre Charpentier Poncelet
    • Christoph Helbig
    • Guido Sonnemann
    Analysis