Environmental social sciences

  • 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
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A key strategy for meeting China’s 2060 carbon neutrality goal and the global 1.5 °C climate goal is to rapidly shift away from unabated coal use. Here, the authors detail how to structure a high-ambition, plant-by-plant coal phaseout in China while balancing multiple national needs.

    • Ryna Yiyun Cui
    • , Nathan Hultman
    •  & Mengye Zhu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    BIPP with biochar sequestration is a ready-to-implement negative emission technology in China. Here, the authors show that its national deployment could contribute to a 61% reduction of carbon emissions per GDP in 2030 compared to 2005, and contribute 13–31% of the global biomass-based negative emission goal by 2050.

    • Qing Yang
    • , Hewen Zhou
    •  & Michael B. McElroy
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Temperature changes as a result of climate change are expected to impact electric capacity and investment. Here, the authors show that in the United States under socioeconomic pathway 2 and RCP 8.5 mean temperature rises will drive increased electricity demand (0.5-8%) by 2100, along increases in capital investments by 3-22%.

    • Zarrar Khan
    • , Gokul Iyer
    •  & Marshall Wise
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is expected that tropical deforestation and related increases in heat exposure have negative impacts on labour productivity, but the size of the effect is not well known. Here, the authors show that deforestation reduces productivity by 8.22% in rural Indonesia and causes behavioural adaptation responses like more work breaks.

    • Yuta J. Masuda
    • , Teevrat Garg
    •  & June T. Spector
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The effect of climate change on highland malaria transmission remains unclear because of increasing and decreasing trends. Here, Rodó et al. analyze malaria case data and climate data for the Ethiopian highlands from 1968 to 2008 and find that changes in temperature and associated climate variability facilitated the effect of interventions at the beginning of the 21st century.

    • Xavier Rodó
    • , Pamela P. Martinez
    •  & Mercedes Pascual
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Tropical cyclones can cause severe damage and can thus have devastating impacts on societies. Here, the authors use Medicare data to show that tropical cyclone exposure in the United States is associated with increased hospitalization rates for older adults from many different acute causes.

    • Robbie M. Parks
    • , G. Brooke Anderson
    •  & Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou
  • Article
    | Open Access

    As countries experience economic growth, diversification of economic activities may occur. Here, the authors develop a probabilistic model to examine the diversification of economic activities and how countries may move from small ecosystem products to advanced product clusters over time.

    • Neave O’Clery
    • , Muhammed Ali Yıldırım
    •  & Ricardo Hausmann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Little is known about people’s preferred responses to norm violations across countries. Here, in a study of 57 countries, the authors highlight cultural similarities and differences in people’s perception of the appropriateness of norm violations.

    • Kimmo Eriksson
    • , Pontus Strimling
    •  & Paul A. M. Van Lange
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Not much is known about the joint relationships between social network structure, urban geography, and inequality. Here, the authors analyze an online social network and find that the fragmentation of social networks is significantly higher in towns in which residential neighborhoods are divided by physical barriers such as rivers and railroads.

    • Gergő Tóth
    • , Johannes Wachs
    •  & Balázs Lengyel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Many cities in the US self-report greenhouse gas emissions. Here, the authors find that US cities under-report their own greenhouse gas emissions, on average, by 18.3% because city inventories omit some fuels and source types and estimate transportation emissions differently.

    • Kevin Robert Gurney
    • , Jianming Liang
    •  & Thomas Lauvaux
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Online shopping deliveries are booming, but the environmental cost is not always accounted. Here, the authors examine the impact of delivery services in China from 2007 to 2018 and find that Greenhouse gas emissions surged from 0.3 Mt in 2007 to 13.7 Mt of CO2-equivalent in 2018, they predict that emissions could reach 75 MtCO2e by 2035 if no mitigation measures are adopted.

    • Peng Kang
    • , Guanghan Song
    •  & Huabo Duan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    China announced a ban on its import of most plastic waste in 2017, resulting in an impact on global environmental sustainability. Here the authors quantify the environmental impacts of changes in the flow patterns and treatment methods of 6 types of plastic waste in 18 countries subsequent to the ban.

    • Zongguo Wen
    • , Yiling Xie
    •  & Christian Doh Dinga
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Governments may struggle to impose costly polices on vital industries, resulting in a greater need for negative emissions. Here, the authors model a direct air capture crash deployment program, finding it can remove 2.3 GtCO2 yr–1 in 2050, 13–20 GtCO2 yr–1 in 2075, and 570–840 GtCO2 cumulative over 2025–2100.

    • Ryan Hanna
    • , Ahmed Abdulla
    •  & David G. Victor
  • Article
    | Open Access

    This study investigates in the importance of non-fossil fuel NOx emissions in the surface-earth-nitrogen cycle. The study shows how changes of regional human activities directly influence δ15N signatures of deposited NOx to terrestrial environments and that emissions have largely been underestimated.

    • Wei Song
    • , Xue-Yan Liu
    •  & Cong-Qiang Liu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Whether disasters spur policy change remains contested. Here, the authors utilize a dataset of 10,976 natural hazard events and multiple disaster risk reduction (DRR) policy indicators across 85 countries over eight years to show that frequency and severity factors are unassociated with improved DRR policy.

    • Daniel Nohrstedt
    • , Maurizio Mazzoleni
    •  & Giuliano Di Baldassarre