Reviews & Analysis

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  • Greenland is rich in natural mineral resources and has been actively investigating the economic potential of expanded mineral extraction. However, public opinion calls for the assessment of the environmental and social impacts of mineral extraction.

    • Leneisja Jungsberg
    News & Views
  • There are no silver bullet chemistries for batteries — but zinc technology, with its safety, cost and environmental advantages, has received renewed interest as a choice for sustainability. Now, direct imaging sheds light on the charge carrier, clearing a major barrier to understanding and upgrading this energy system.

    • Fei Wang
    • Kang Xu
    • Chunsheng Wang
    News & Views
  • Hydrological modelling makes it possible to derive measures of water availability that are representative of its importance for human sustenance. This approach, and focusing on water utilization processes rather than simplifying them into environmental factors, helps identify new quantitative evidence of interconnections between conflict, society and the environment.

    Research Briefing
  • Sustainable agrifood systems are critical to redefining the interactions of humanity and nature in the twenty-first century. This Perspective presents an agenda and examples for the comprehensive redesign of agrifood systems according to principles of sufficiency, regeneration, distribution, commons and care.

    • Steven R. McGreevy
    • Christoph D. D. Rupprecht
    • Masashi Tachikawa
  • Little is known about the potential of digital twins in the pursuit of sustainability. This study examines the likely benefits of digital twins in urban sustainability paradigms, their limitations when modelling socio-technical and socio-ecological systems and possible ways to attenuate them.

    • Asaf Tzachor
    • Soheil Sabri
    • Michele Acuto
  • The management of introduced species, whether kudzu or zebra mussels, is costly and complex. Now, a paper reports a workable, effective solution that harnesses network analyses of ecological phenomena.

    • Brian Leung
    News & Views
  • Billions of people across the globe lack access to safe drinking water. Now a study sheds light on the potential for sunlight-based technologies to offer reliable disinfection for rural populations, which are often the most underserved.

    • Andrea I. Silverman
    • Jeremy S. Guest
    News & Views
  • The cause of the sudden increase in the complexity of prehistoric societies 4,000–6,000 years ago is unknown. Pig diet and millet-field manuring studies indicate that an intensive millet–pig system developed approximately 5,500 years ago in North China, which provided food for the growing populations of the emerging complex societies.

    Research Briefing
  • Always aspiring for more is a side of human nature that does not accord well with sustainable resource use. However, recent results show that this facet of human nature may not be as typical as previously assumed, potentially opening up a more sustainable and just future for humanity.

    • Therese Lindahl
    News & Views
  • Early human impacts on the environment can illuminate current sustainability challenges. A new paper argues that 5,500 years ago in North China a positive feedback cycle between two domesticated species sparked ongoing intensification of agriculture production and intervention in nature.

    • Gideon Shelach-Lavi
    News & Views
  • Co-culture systems produce more food per land unit — offering a sustainable solution to food security. The first step may lie in optimizing for diverse species interaction networks, much like the way engineers design manufacturing systems for optimal productivity.

    • Shweta Singh
    News & Views
  • In China, rapid growth is raising concerns about the impacts of industrial pollution on drinking water and health. A recent study identifies concentrations of disinfection byproducts as a possible culprit in high levels of bladder cancer.

    • William A. Mitch
    News & Views
  • The concentration of disinfection byproducts in tap water varies considerably across China and is statistically related to bladder cancer incidence rates. Anthropogenic factors are shown to have a notable influence on water quality. Countries and regions experiencing rapid socioeconomic development should consider adopting solutions to increase the safety of drinking water.

    Research Briefing
  • The link between oxygen redox and structural disorder in lithium-rich layered electrodes has been challenging to unravel. A theoretical framework for the link between structural disorder, subsequent bond rearrangements and redox chemistry has been proposed, providing guidance for the materials engineering of high-capacity electrodes.

    Research Briefing
  • In the face of growing calls to restrict risk analysis to narrow and specific events, this Perspectives argues instead for fully integrated frameworks that bring risk analysis into all aspects of resilience studies.

    • Tom McLeod Logan
    • Terje Aven
    • Roger Flage
  • Sustainable recycling is necessary for wood to maintain its capacity to store CO2 and to smooth the transition towards a circular economy. Now, an innovative approach offers a promising perspective on second- and third-life applications for ‘waste’ wood.

    • Guido Panzarasa
    • Ingo Burgert
    News & Views
  • In the global transition to sustainable development, policy coherence is key. A new study highlights the equal importance of policy dynamism over time — how policymakers must anticipate national advances in sustainability to meet shifting strategic needs.

    • Tiffany H. Morrison
    News & Views
  • Renewable electricity-powered CO2 electroreduction offers a sustainable route to transform the chemical industry. Here the authors overview four CO2 electrolysis pathways that could be immune from carbonate formation, a major technological barrier.

    • Adnan Ozden
    • F. Pelayo García de Arquer
    • David Sinton
    Review Article
  • This article reviews the past decade of literature reporting the application of resilience science in sustainable development practice. Although innovative complexity-oriented practices have emerged, the article shows that dominant applications diverge substantially from the science.

    • Belinda Reyers
    • Michele-Lee Moore
    • Maja Schlüter
    Review Article