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Volume 2 Issue 8, August 2019

Volume 2 Issue 8

Urban form and peak carbon

China's commitment to achieve peak carbon emissions by 2030 is heavily dependent on its cities. This study looks at 50 of China's cities to analyse per capita emissions and GDP growth, finding that the country may reach peak emissions by 2025.

See Wang et al.

Image: Haoran Zhang, Beijing Xinrui Vision Technology Co. Ltd. Cover Design: David Shand.


  • Editorial |

    Research coupling nutrition and environmental concerns is critical but should increasingly look at ways to integrate insights from psychology.


Comment & Opinion

  • Comment |

    Leaders of sustainability research organizations need to provide an environment where interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary science flourish. Developing the necessary leadership skills and attributes requires new, targeted training programmes.

    • I. J. Gordon
    • K. Bawa
    • K. Taylor

Books & Arts

Research Highlights

News & Views

  • 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 |

    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 |

    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


  • Perspective |

    In the Anthropocene, our global influence extends to risks. This Perspective argues for including human–environment interactions in our understanding of systemic risks and considers four illustrative case studies, including sea-level rise and megacities.

    • Patrick W. Keys
    • Victor Galaz
    • Sarah E. Cornell
  • Perspective |

    The international community has committed to fight climate change and achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Here the authors assess evidence about the relationships between the two agendas and discuss the need of deeper interdisciplinary efforts to understand these relationships.

    • Francesco Fuso Nerini
    • Benjamin Sovacool
    • Ben Milligan
  • Perspective |

    Sanitation is usually considered just an engineering and public health issue. This Perspective suggests avenues by which recoverable resources can enhance ecosystem services, such as provisioning nutrients for food production, and suggests synergies that can promote sustainable development.

    • John T. Trimmer
    • Daniel C. Miller
    • Jeremy S. Guest
  • Review Article |

    A review of studies on exposure to elevated CO2 concentrations in air suggests that health damages, such as inflammation or reductions in cognitive abilities, can occur at levels as low as 1,000 ppm.

    • Tyler A. Jacobson
    • Jasdeep S. Kler
    • William E. Funk


  • Article |

    The Amazon exemplifies conflicts between extractive resource use and conservation goals. This study finds lead in livers of Amazonian game comparable to levels in industrialized nations and that lead ammunition and oil-related pollution are key sources.

    • Mar Cartró-Sabaté
    • Pedro Mayor
    • Antoni Rosell-Melé
  • Article |

    The growing prevalence of drought conditions across the world means that mitigation and adaptation will require accounting for feedback loops between water availability and interventions. The Willamette River Valley in Oregon serves as a case study for how to use coupled human–natural systems to mitigate drought.

    • William K. Jaeger
    • Adell Amos
    • Andrew J. Plantinga
  • Article |

    Dietary changes to reduce environmental impacts depend on behavioural factors. By linking a behavioural diet shift model to an integrated assessment model, this study shows the role of social norms and self-efficacy as main drivers of widespread dietary changes.

    • Sibel Eker
    • Gerhard Reese
    • Michael Obersteiner
  • Article |

    The number of environmental activists and defenders killed per week around the world over the past 15 years has doubled. Countries with the most corruption and weakest rule of law have the highest correlation with deaths but environmental rights face threats even in industrialized countries.

    • Nathalie Butt
    • Frances Lambrick
    • Anna Renwick
  • Analysis |

    Chinese commitments under the Paris Agreement are premised on a peak in CO2 emissions by 2030. Using the Kuznets curve and emissions and gross domestic product data from 50 cities in the country, this Analysis predicts that emissions in China could peak between 2021 and 2025, well ahead of the Paris target.

    • Haikun Wang
    • Xi Lu
    • Michael B. McElroy
  • Analysis |

    Groundwater wells in the United States are under more stress than ever before due to drought conditions and rising demand, but the extensive nature of deeper drilling has been unreported. This analysis compiles nearly 12 million groundwater wells across the United States to determine water vulnerability and sustainability.

    • Debra Perrone
    • Scott Jasechko


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