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Volume 4 Issue 7, July 2021

Volume 4 Issue 7

Energy–water synergies

Estimates of the water savings and financial benefits of covering canals with solar panels are rare. McKuin and colleagues find that in the case of California’s canal network, evaporation savings could be substantial and the financial benefits could outweigh the costs of the cable-support structures required to span the canals.

See McKuin et al.

Image: Solar AquaGrid LLC. Cover Design:Valentina Monaco.


  • Editorial |

    Nature Sustainability welcomes research comparing the performance of environmental policy instruments to better inform the choice of policies and ultimately help to bridge the science–policy gap.

Comment & Opinion

  • Comment |

    Sustainably transitioning to electric vehicles is challenging where transport and electricity systems are poorly defined due to a lack of data, such as those dominated by paratransit (informal, privately owned ‘public’ transport). We call for a more systemic approach to data collection as a key enabler for this transition.

    • Katherine A. Collett
    • Stephanie A. Hirmer
  • Q&A |

    Multiple policy tools are needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Åsa Persson, from the Stockholm Environment Institute and a member of the Independent Group of Scientists working on the 2023 United Nations Global Sustainable Development Report, speaks to Nature Sustainability about the complexity of research comparing the impacts of policy instruments.

    • Aiora Zabala


  • Perspective |

    Divergent conceptions of living nature between conservationists and other groups of people can hinder progress to protect biodiversity. This Perspective reflects on the use of the concept of biodiversity, willingness to expand its ambit, and engagement with the various drivers of change.

    • Unai Pascual
    • William M. Adams
    • Esther Turnhout


  • Article |

    Cooperative institutional networks are essential to achieve SDG targets. Combining SDG interaction analysis with a transition management framework, this study finds that in Aruba prioritizing benefits from sustainable marine development leads to the greatest amount of direct co-benefits to other SDGs.

    • Gerald G. Singh
    • Marck Oduber
    • Jorge Ridderstaat
  • Article |

    Amazonians are subject to climate shocks, but the associated health outcomes are still unclear. This study finds that rainfall variability is associated with adverse birth outcomes, especially for those most isolated and marginalized.

    • Erick A. Chacón-Montalván
    • Benjamin M. Taylor
    • Luke Parry
  • Article |

    Oil palm production in Indonesia has expanded by converting more natural ecosystems to agricultural ones. This study finds large yield gaps among large and smallholder farms there, suggesting improved management could increase production while sparing fragile ecosystems.

    • Juan P. Monzon
    • Maja A. Slingerland
    • Patricio Grassini
  • Article |

    Nature benefits people in diverse ways, but insight on the relative value of conserving or restoring versus using intensively is limited. Synthesizing data from 62 sites worldwide, this study finds benefits from conservation and restoration often outweighing private ones and that these rise with the social cost of carbon.

    • Richard B. Bradbury
    • Stuart H. M. Butchart
    • Andrew Balmford
  • Article |

    Over-canal solar photovoltaic arrays are likely to reduce water evaporation and carry financial co-benefits, but estimates are lacking. With hydrologic and techno-economic simulations of solar panels covering California’s canal network, this study shows the advantages of covering canals with solar panels.

    • Brandi McKuin
    • Andrew Zumkehr
    • J. Elliott Campbell
  • Article |

    Recovering precious resources from waste is essential to implement a circular economy, but the available methods carry environmental costs. In this Article, a greener photocatalytic process is shown to recover up to seven precious metals from waste successfully, offering the potential for wide application.

    • Yao Chen
    • Mengjiao Xu
    • Zhenfeng Bian
  • Article |

    There is growing interest in the development of biodegradable plastics from renewable resources. Here the authors report an in situ process involving only green chemicals to deconstruct natural wood, forming lignocellulosic bioplastics that are mechanically strong, stable against water and sustainable.

    • Qinqin Xia
    • Chaoji Chen
    • Liangbing Hu
  • Analysis |

    As cannabis production becomes legalized and legitimized, its production will likely change and expand with attendant environmental impacts. This life cycle analysis of energy and material costs across the United States focuses on indoor cannabis growing operations.

    • Hailey M. Summers
    • Evan Sproul
    • Jason C. Quinn
  • Analysis |

    Most of the world’s farms are small. This study finds that smaller farms have higher yields and biodiversity than larger ones but little difference in greenhouse gas emissions and profits.

    • Vincent Ricciardi
    • Zia Mehrabi
    • Navin Ramankutty


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