Environmental social sciences

  • 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
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Gender inequality increases vulnerability to climate change impacts and reduces societies’ adaptive capacity. Here the authors show how gender inequality may evolve in the future in five scenarios of socioeconomic development and highlight the importance of incorporating gender inequality in climate change research and policy.

    • Marina Andrijevic
    • , Jesus Crespo Cuaresma
    •  & Carl-Friedrich Schleussner
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Current inequality and market consumption modelling appears to be subjective. Here the authors combined all three axes of poverty modelling - Engel-Krishnakumar’s microeconomics, Aoki-Chattopadhyay’s mathematical precept and found that multivariate construction is a key component of economic data analysis, implying all modes of income and expenditure need to be considered to arrive at a proper weighted prediction of poverty.

    • Amit K. Chattopadhyay
    • , T. Krishna Kumar
    •  & Iain Rice
  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    Large-scale meat production can have negative impacts on public health, the environment and animal welfare. In this Review, the authors consider plant-based and cell-based approaches to meat production and the challenges they face.

    • Natalie R. Rubio
    • , Ning Xiang
    •  & David L. Kaplan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Forests are critical for stabilizing our climate, but costs of mitigation remain uncertain. Here the authors show the global forest sector could reduce emissions by 6.0 GtCOyr−1 in 2055, or roughly 10% of the mitigation needed to limit warming to 1.5 °C by mid-century, at a cost of 393 billion USD yr−1, or $281/tCO2.

    • K. G. Austin
    • , J. S. Baker
    •  & A. Bean
  • Article
    | Open Access

    China has enacted Electric Heating Policy to substitute electricity for in-home combustion for rural residential heating. Here the authors show that this shift would greatly increase national carbon emissions by 101.69–162.89 megatons in 2015 while impeding China’s carbon mitigation process in the future.

    • Jianxiao Wang
    • , Haiwang Zhong
    •  & Chongqing Kang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Local human activities can lead to cross-border environmental impacts through the food–energy–water–CO2 nexus. Here, the authors report wide variations in environmental impacts of irrigated agriculture across counties within the North China Plain under different environmental and socioeconomic scenarios.

    • Zhenci Xu
    • , Xiuzhi Chen
    •  & Yunkai Li
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The global supply chain and demand for export goods can lead to relocated emissions. Goods produced in China for foreign markets have lead to an increase of domestic non-methane volatile organic compounds emissions by 3.5 million tons in 2013 resulting in potentially an estimated 16,889 premature deaths annually.

    • Jiamin Ou
    • , Zhijiong Huang
    •  & Dabo Guan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Urban development has dramatically increased in recent decades. Analyzing 841 large cities throughout the world for the period from 2001 to 2018, the authors disclosed uneven features of global urbanization in terms of urban expansion, population growth, and greening at different economic levels.

    • Liqun Sun
    • , Ji Chen
    •  & Dian Huang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate action from local actors is vital in achieving nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement. Here the authors show that existing commitments from U.S. states, cities and business could reduce emissions 25% below 2005 levels by 2030, with expanded subnational action reducing emissions by 37% and federal action by up to 49%.

    • Nathan E. Hultman
    • , Leon Clarke
    •  & John O’Neill
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped many human activities, which has had significant impact on emissions of greenhouse gases. Here, the authors present daily estimates of country-level CO2 emissions for different economic sectors and show that there has been a 8.8% decrease in global CO2 emissions in the first half of 2020.

    • Zhu Liu
    • , Philippe Ciais
    •  & Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Unconventional oil and gas production has increased drastically in the US, but its environmental impacts are not well known. Here, the authors show that these wells can be associated with elevated levels of airborne particle radioactivity in downwind locations.

    • Longxiang Li
    • , Annelise J. Blomberg
    •  & Petros Koutrakis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Switching and relocating crops could be a key pathway for agricultural adaptation to climate change. Here, Rising and Devineni use data-driven Bayesian modelling to estimate the potential for crop switching to mitigate climate impacts on US crop production under a high-emission scenario, showing considerable opportunities but also limitations.

    • James Rising
    •  & Naresh Devineni
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Implementation of Central European electricity targets will redistribute regional benefits and burdens. Here the authors show that the aims of cost-efficiency, regional equality, and renewable electricity generation have vastly different implementation pathways, impacts, and trade-offs.

    • Jan-Philipp Sasse
    •  & Evelina Trutnevyte
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Coastal river delta regions are particularly impacted by the effects of climate change, yet though these regions are densely inhabited, robust estimates of population are lacking. Here the authors use global datasets to predict the number of people and regions most threatened by flooding and extreme weather.

    • Douglas A. Edmonds
    • , Rebecca L. Caldwell
    •  & Sacha M. O. Siani
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Most driver models were designed for specific scenario. Here, the authors developed a driver behaviour model that can be applied to multiple scenarios and show that human-like driving behaviour emerges when the Driver’s Risk Field is coupled to a controller that maintains the perceived risk below a threshold level.

    • Sarvesh Kolekar
    • , Joost de Winter
    •  & David Abbink
  • Article
    | Open Access

    As low-carbon energy technologies advance, markets are driving demand for energy transition metals, increasing the stress placed on people and the environment in extractive locations. Here, the authors quantify this stress by developing a set of global composite environmental, social and governance risk indicators, and find that 84% of platinum resources and 70% of cobalt resources are located in high-risk contexts.

    • Éléonore Lèbre
    • , Martin Stringer
    •  & Rick K. Valenta
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Due to legislative shortfalls, species of global conservation concern can still be captured in commercial fisheries. Here the authors show that 91 threatened species are reported in catch/landing databases, 13 of which are traded internationally despite their conservation concern.

    • Leslie A. Roberson
    • , Reg A. Watson
    •  & Carissa J. Klein
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In the light of nine Earth System Processes (ESPs) and the corresponding planetary boundaries, here the authors assessed the global environmental impact of a global carbon pricing in a multi-boundary world. They show that a global carbon tax would relieve pressure on most ESPs and it is therefore stronger in a multi-boundary world than when considering climate change in isolation.

    • Gustav Engström
    • , Johan Gars
    •  & Badri Narayanan
  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    Accounting guidelines exist for carbon flows in terrestrial and coastal ecosystems, but not shelf sea sediments. In this Review, the authors explore whether effective management of carbon stocks accumulating in shelf seas could contribute to a nation’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

    • Tiziana Luisetti
    • , Silvia Ferrini
    •  & Emmanouil Tyllianakis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Official data on the distribution of human population often ignores the changing spatio-temporal densities resulting from mobility. Here, authors apply an approach combining official statistics and geospatial data to assess intraday and monthly population variations at continental scale at 1 km2 resolution.

    • Filipe Batista e Silva
    • , Sérgio Freire
    •  & Carlo Lavalle
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The impacts of climate change on agricultural productivity remain debated. Here, the authors present new evidence for the magnitude and causes of U.S. crop insurance losses, using a database of production risk from 1989–2014 across 1733 counties for corn and 1632 counties for soybeans, and find that crop production risk will increase in response to warmer temperatures.

    • Edward D. Perry
    • , Jisang Yu
    •  & Jesse Tack
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The long-term availability of lithium in the event of significant demand growth of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is important to assess. Here the authors assess lithium demand and supply challenges of a long-term energy transition using 18 scenarios, developed by combining 8 demand and 4 supply variations.

    • Peter Greim
    • , A. A. Solomon
    •  & Christian Breyer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The methane emissions from natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are unclear. Here the authors report high methane emissions from heavy-duty NGVs, and by using a scenario analysis show that strictly implementing the upcoming China VI standard could reduce GHG emissions by 509 Mt CO2eq for 2020-2030.

    • Da Pan
    • , Lei Tao
    •  & Mark A. Zondlo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The environmental and socio-economic implications of the growth in welfare and trade in Asia-Pacific (APAC) remain unclear. Here the authors show that over the past two decades (1995–2015), owing to intraregional trade, the APAC economies have grown increasingly interdependent in natural resource use, air emissions, and labor and economic productivity.

    • Lan Yang
    • , Yutao Wang
    •  & Yuanbo Qiao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Islands have disproportionate importance for biodiversity conservation, yet they may be underrepresented in protected areas. Here the authors assess how climate, geography, habitat diversity, and socio-economic conditions explain terrestrial and marine protected area coverage on inhabited islands and in the surrounding seas globally.

    • David Mouillot
    • , Laure Velez
    •  & Marc Troussellier
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Global largest agricultural ammonia (NH3) emissions in China have caused severe damage to both ecosystem and human health, yet no policy is formulated to reduce NH3 emissions. Here, the authors show that halving agricultural NH3 emissions with feasible technical mitigation options in China generates far more societal benefits than abatement costs.

    • Xiuming Zhang
    • , Baojing Gu
    •  & Deli Chen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Hospital systems are critical, especially in providing healthcare services after disasters. Here, the authors revealed that in Lima the spatial distribution of health service demands mismatches the capacities of hospitals after earthquakes, leaving large zones on the periphery significantly underserved.

    • Luis Ceferino
    • , Judith Mitrani-Reiser
    •  & Celso Bambarén
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The allocation of remaining fossil fuel production has stimulated a discussion around issues of equitable allocation but the implications of different options are unclear. Here the authors show that shifting production to low-medium human development regions has limited economic benefits under strong climate policy.

    • Steve Pye
    • , Siân Bradley
    •  & Paul Ekins
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Cement plays a dual role in the carbon cycle like a sponge. Here, the authors employ a dynamic model to quantify such sponge effect and concluded that deep decarbonization of the global cement cycle will require radical technology advancements and widespread deployment of material efficiency measures.

    • Zhi Cao
    • , Rupert J. Myers
    •  & Gang Liu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Assessments of future virtual water trading are still lacking. Here the authors estimated the global virtual water trade throughout the century and found that virtual green water exports and virtual blue water exports at least triple to more than 3200 bcm and 170 bcm, respectively, by the end of the century.

    • Neal T. Graham
    • , Mohamad I. Hejazi
    •  & Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm
  • Perspective
    | Open Access

    Oceans provide important natural resources, but the management and governance of the ocean is complex and the ecosystem is suffering as a result. The authors discuss current barriers to sustainable ocean governance and suggest pathways forward.

    • Tanya Brodie Rudolph
    • , Mary Ruckelshaus
    •  & Philile Mbatha
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Plastic pollution is a critical concern across diverse ecosystems, yet most research has focused on terrestrial and aquatic transport, neglecting other mechanisms. Here the authors show that atmospheric transport is a major pathway for road plastic pollution over remote regions.

    • N. Evangeliou
    • , H. Grythe
    •  & A. Stohl
  • Perspective
    | Open Access

    Current environmental impact mitigation neglects over-consumption from affluent citizens as a primary driver. The authors highlight the role of bottom-up movements to overcome structural economic growth imperatives spurring consumption by changing structures and culture towards safe and just systems.

    • Thomas Wiedmann
    • , Manfred Lenzen
    •  & Julia K. Steinberger
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The decrease in costs of renewable energy and storage has not been well accounted for in energy modelling, which however will have a large effect on energy system investment and policies. Here the authors incorporated recent decrease in costs of renewable energy and storages to refine the pathways to decarbonize China’s power system by 2030 and show that if such cost trends for renewables continue, more than 60% of China’s electricity could come from non-fossil sources by 2030 at a cost that is about 10% lower than achieved through a business-as-usual approach.

    • Gang He
    • , Jiang Lin
    •  & Amol Phadke