Environmental social sciences

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Current carbon accounting and reporting practices remain unsystematic and incomparable, particularly for emissions along the value chain (scope 3). Here the authors present a framework to harmonize scope 3 emissions by accounting for reporting inconsistency, boundary incompleteness, and activity exclusion.

    • Lena Klaaßen
    •  & Christian Stoll
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Solar and wind resources are dependent on geophysical constraints. Here the authors find that solar and wind power resources can satisfy countries’ electricity demand of between 72–91% of hours, but hundreds of hours of unmet demand may occur annually.

    • Dan Tong
    • , David J. Farnham
    •  & Steven J. Davis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Microporous polymers become increasingly attractive as materials for the fabrication of permeable and selective gas separation membranes but separation performance is often limited by broad pore size distribution. Here, the authors design a porous polymer membrane via multi-crosslinking of miscible blends of microporous polymers enabling simultaneous high permeability and selectivity.

    • Xiuling Chen
    • , Yanfang Fan
    •  & Nanwen Li
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Building construction causes large material-related emissions which present a serious decarbonization challenge. Here, the authors show that the building material sector could halve emissions by increasing efficiency until 2060 but even then its emissions would be twice as high as needed to meet the 1.5 °C target.

    • Xiaoyang Zhong
    • , Mingming Hu
    •  & Paul Behrens
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influences the weather around the world and, therefore, has strong impacts on society. Here, the authors show that ENSO is associated with child nutrition in many countries, with warmer El Niño conditions leading to more child undernutrition in large parts of the developing world.

    • Jesse K. Anttila-Hughes
    • , Amir S. Jina
    •  & Gordon C. McCord
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Though a global assessment of rooftop solar photovoltaic (RTSPV) technology’s potential and the cost is needed to estimate its impact, existing methods demand extensive data processing. Here, the authors report a machine learning method to realize a high-resolution global assessment of RTSPV potential.

    • Siddharth Joshi
    • , Shivika Mittal
    •  & James Glynn
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Heatwaves are becoming increasingly frequent and more intense, causing severe economic impacts through reduced labour productivity. Here, the authors show that economic damages in Europe exceed 1% of the GDP in vulnerable areas, which might increase by a factor of almost five in the medium term without climate action.

    • David García-León
    • , Ana Casanueva
    •  & Lars Nybo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Household air pollution derived from cooking fuels is a major source of health and environmental problems. Here, the authors provide detailed global, regional and country estimates of cooking fuel usage from 1990 to 2030 and project that 31% of people will still be mainly using polluting fuels in 2030.

    • Oliver Stoner
    • , Jessica Lewis
    •  & Heather Adair-Rohani
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Global demand for “blue food” is growing. In this quantitative synthesis, the authors analyse global seafood demand and project trends to 2050, finding considerable regional variation in the relationship between wealth and consumption.

    • Rosamond L. Naylor
    • , Avinash Kishore
    •  & Beatrice Crona
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There is much uncertainty on use and impact of pesticides in organic agriculture. Here, the authors compare pesticide use in conventionally and organically managed fields in Kern County (US), finding that organic fields are less likely to be treated but, when they are, they receive similar pesticide amount as the conventional fields.

    • Ashley E. Larsen
    • , L. Claire Powers
    •  & Sofie McComb
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Crop diversification could be important for food security. Here, using methods from network science, the authors find that a positive relationship between crop diversity and nutritional stability globally does not necessarily equate to improving nutritional stability in a given country.

    • Charlie C. Nicholson
    • , Benjamin F. Emery
    •  & Meredith T. Niles
  • Article
    | Open Access

    COVID-19 has decreased power sector emissions globally and in the United States. Here the authors assess whether such reductions would have occurred in the United States in the absence of the pandemic, as well as the potential impact of COVID-19 on coal-fired power plant retirements through 2022.

    • Max Luke
    • , Priyanshi Somani
    •  & Stephen J. Lee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate change is expected to have impacts on human mortality, e.g. through increases in heat waves. Here, the author proposes a new metric to account for excess deaths from additional CO2 emissions, which allows to assess the mortality impacts of marginal emissions and leads to a substantial increase in the social costs of carbon.

    • R. Daniel Bressler
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A historical reconstruction of water use in Egypt shows the change in relative use of Nile water versus virtual water import, especially in the highly consumptive agriculture sector. A range of future projections of water demand are offered based on several plausible socioeconomic scenarios.

    • Catherine A. Nikiel
    •  & Elfatih A. B. Eltahir
  • Article
    | Open Access

    This study combines ethnobotanical and epidemiological data to understand how social networks of seed exchange influence the genetic structure of the African cassava mosaic virus in Gabon. Results reveal contrasted patterns of viral diversity in patrilineal and matrilineal communities, consistent with cultural differences in modes of seed exchange.

    • Marc Delêtre
    • , Jean-Michel Lett
    •  & Charles Spillane
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It has been suggested that younger people care more about climate change than older people. Here, the authors present ten year panel data from New Zealand and show that despite a generation gap in starting levels, climate change beliefs have increased at similar rates across ages over the 2009-2018 period.

    • Taciano L. Milfont
    • , Elena Zubielevitch
    •  & Chris G. Sibley
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Access to low cost finance is vital for developing economies’ transition to green energy. Here the authors show how modelled decarbonization pathways for developing economies are disproportionately impacted by different weighted average cost of capital (WACC) assumptions.

    • Nadia Ameli
    • , Olivier Dessens
    •  & Michael Grubb
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Predicting the risk of flooding in coastal environments relies on accurate land elevation data, but this is not available in many parts of the world. Here the authors apply a global lowland digital terrain model derived from satellite LiDAR and determine that the regions most vulnerable to sea-level rise are in the tropics.

    • A. Hooijer
    •  & R. Vernimmen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Summed probability distributions of radiocarbon dates can be used to estimate past demography, but methods to test for associations with environmental change are lacking. Here, DiNapoli et al. propose an approach using Approximate Bayesian Computation and illustrate it in a case study of Rapa Nui.

    • Robert J. DiNapoli
    • , Enrico R. Crema
    •  & Terry L. Hunt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Afforestation is an important greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation strategy but the efficacy of commercial (harvested) forestry is disputed. Here the authors apply dynamic life cycle assessment to show that new commercial conifer forests can achieve up to 269% more GHG mitigation than semi-natural forests, over 100 years.

    • Eilidh J. Forster
    • , John R. Healey
    •  & David Styles
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Aviation contributes to climate change and ways to reduce its emissions are widely debated. Here, the authors assess the effects of technology improvements and the use of sustainable aviation fuels and find that even when these are considered aviation is unlikely to meet emissions goals in line with the Paris Agreement.

    • Volker Grewe
    • , Arvind Gangoli Rao
    •  & Katrin Dahlmann
  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    Whether or not a city achieves absolute sustainability is difficult to assess with existing frameworks. Here the authors, in a review, show that a further integration of consumption-based accounting and benchmarking is necessary to aid the monitoring and assessment of Sustainable Development Goals in cities.

    • Thomas Wiedmann
    •  & Cameron Allen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    European Union’s vulnerability to climate change stretches far beyond its borders. Here the authors find that more than 44% of the EU agricultural imports will become highly vulnerable to drought in future because of climate change.

    • Ertug Ercin
    • , Ted I. E. Veldkamp
    •  & Johannes Hunink
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is one of the most important environmental health risk factors in many regions. Here, the authors present an assessment of PM2.5 emission sources and the related health impacts across global to sub-national scales and find that over 1 million deaths were avoidable in 2017 by eliminating PM2.5 mass associated with fossil fuel combustion emissions.

    • Erin E. McDuffie
    • , Randall V. Martin
    •  & Michael Brauer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Social inequalities may be reflected in how ecosystem services are distributed among groups of people. Here the authors estimate the distribution of three ecosystem services across demographic and socioeconomic groups in the US between 2020 and 2100, finding that non-white and lower-income groups disproportionately bear the loss of ecosystem service benefits.

    • Jesse D. Gourevitch
    • , Aura M. Alonso-Rodríguez
    •  & Taylor H. Ricketts
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Reflective surfaces have been recommended to mitigate urban heat pollution but can be expensive to apply at a large scale. This work shows that applying them to only the upstream half of a neighborhood can lead to disporportionately high cooling benefits relative to cost.

    • Sushobhan Sen
    •  & Lev Khazanovich
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Benefit-cost analyses of climate policies have generated conflicting assessments; as social welfare is affected by regional heterogeneity. Here the authors show that economically optimal pathways are consistent with climate stabilization but are characterized by persistent economic inequalities due to climate damages.

    • Paolo Gazzotti
    • , Johannes Emmerling
    •  & Massimo Tavoni
  • Perspective
    | Open Access

    The ocean supports many livelihoods, but this is currently not sustainable with pressures on the climate and ecosystems. Here, in this perspective, the authors outline the barriers and solutions for financing a sustainable ocean economy.

    • U. Rashid Sumaila
    • , Melissa Walsh
    •  & Junjie Zhang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Individual exposure to heat is associated with adverse health and economic outcomes. Here, the authors show that people of color and people living in poverty bear a disproportionate burden of urban heat exposure in almost all major cities in the continental United States.

    • Angel Hsu
    • , Glenn Sheriff
    •  & Diego Manya
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Established climate mitigation modelling relies on controversial negative emissions and unprecedented technological change, but neglects to consider degrowth scenarios. Here the authors show that degrowth scenarios minimize many key risks for feasibility and sustainability and thus need to be thoroughly assessed.

    • Lorenz T. Keyßer
    •  & Manfred Lenzen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Quantifying land use change is critical in tackling global challenges related to food, climate and biodiversity. Here the authors show that land use change has affected 32 % of the global land area in six decades (1960- 2019) by combining multiple open datasets to create the HIstoric Land Dynamics Assessment +.

    • Karina Winkler
    • , Richard Fuchs
    •  & Martin Herold
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Agricultural sectors receive US$600 billion per year in government support, providing incentives for GHG emission-intensive production. Here, the authors show that removing this support will not reduce global GHG emissions by much; rather it will need to be radically redirected to contribute to climate change mitigation.

    • David Laborde
    • , Abdullah Mamun
    •  & Rob Vos
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Determining attractive response strategies for international climate policy is a complex task. Here, the authors develop a meta-model that disentangles the main uncertainties using full literature ranges and use it to directly compare the insights of the cost-minimising and cost-benefit modelling communities.

    • Kaj-Ivar van der Wijst
    • , Andries F. Hof
    •  & Detlef P. van Vuuren
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ambitious climate policies can negatively impact the global poor by affecting income, food and energy prices. Here, the authors quantify this effect, and show that it can be compensated by national redistribution of the carbon pricing revenues in combination with international climate finance.

    • Bjoern Soergel
    • , Elmar Kriegler
    •  & Alexander Popp
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The COVID-19 response has led to unparalleled changes in the functioning of human society, from travel restrictions to changes in consumption. Here the authors use high resolution satellite data to track the global reduction in marine traffic during the pandemic, and more recent hints of recovery to pre-lockdown levels.

    • David March
    • , Kristian Metcalfe
    •  & Brendan J. Godley
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The global agrarian transition is characterized by a rise in large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs), whose energy impacts are unknown. Here, the authors assess how LSLAs change land use, finding that they necessitate greater investment in energy to meet demands, and greater greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Lorenzo Rosa
    • , Maria Cristina Rulli
    •  & Paolo D’Odorico
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Superfund sites have hazardous wastes that could affect the health of those who live near them, but this has not been assessed across the USA. Here the authors find that proximity to superfund sites decreases life expectancy and is further exacerbated by sociodemographic and climate change factors.

    • Amin Kiaghadi
    • , Hanadi S. Rifai
    •  & Clint N. Dawson
  • Perspective
    | Open Access

    Negative emission technologies are central to avoiding catastrophic climate change. Deploying engineered solutions such as direct air capture requires a policy sequencing strategy that focuses on “incentives + mandates” in early adopters, while creating positive spillovers that incentivize follower countries to take policy action.

    • Jonas Meckling
    •  & Eric Biber
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The growing energy consumption and carbon emissions of Bitcoin mining could potentially undermine global sustainability efforts. Here, the authors show the annual energy consumption of the Bitcoin blockchain in China is expected to peak in 2024 at 296.59 Twh and generate 130.50 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

    • Shangrong Jiang
    • , Yuze Li
    •  & Shouyang Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Recent technological, social, and educational changes are profoundly impacting our work, but what makes labour markets resilient to those labour shocks? Here, the authors show that labour markets resemble ecological systems whose resilience depends critically on the network of skill similarities between different jobs.

    • Esteban Moro
    • , Morgan R. Frank
    •  & Iyad Rahwan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The impacts of water scarcity depend on physical basin characteristics and global economic dynamics. Here, the authors show scenario assumptions can yield either highly positive or negative economic impacts due to water scarcity, and the drivers of these impacts are basin-specific and cannot be determined a priori.

    • Flannery Dolan
    • , Jonathan Lamontagne
    •  & Jae Edmonds
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding how cities respond to extreme weather is critical; as such events are becoming more frequent. Using anonymized mobile phone data for Houston, Texas during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the authors find that mobility behavior exposes neighborhood disparities in resilience capacity and recovery.

    • Boyeong Hong
    • , Bartosz J. Bonczak
    •  & Constantine E. Kontokosta