Measuring Ecosystem Services at Multiple Scales

Can different methods of measuring ecosystem services for a region provide coherent, complementary results?

Wind, oil, and gas—categorizing the ecological footprint of energy sprawl

Spatial analysis can be utilized as a decision-support tool to make sure energy development occurs in the least ecologically sensitive areas.

Economic status and its influence on tree planting in urban areas

Communities with more tree cover benefit from increased shade, better water filtration, and a host of other positive externalities, but not all communities experience equal benefits.

Forest regrowth as a counterbalance to climate variability

A resurgence of forest cover in the North Carolina Piedmont has a significant effect on stream discharge and drought timing. 

Remote sensing reveals the rapid spread of gold mines in the Amazon

Researchers use cutting-edge technologies to track rapidly expanding gold mining operations in the Peruvian Amazon.

Animals as carbon-cycle mediators

Animals likely play a more instrumental role in carbon cycling and storage than previously understood, making wildlife management a potential avenue for mitigating carbon emissions. 

Carbon policies may neglect the interest of water scarce areas

A national carbon policy may exasperate water shortages in the western United States. Yet, the high cost of water reduction in the electricity sector makes it an unlikely candidate for mitigating water consumption in light of climate change and carbon policies. 

Working from the outside in

Green outdoor environments at the office promote positive workplace attitudes and reduce stress.

Is Fairtrade certification greening agricultural practices?

The effects of Fairtrade certification on agricultural practices may not be as strong as previous studies suggest.

Are we heading toward conscious consumption?

A sustainable future lies not only in the hands of individuals, but also in the collective efforts of the society.

Thirsty World: Hydrology alone doesn’t determine water supply in Peru’s Santa River Basin

Incorporating human behavior into hydrology models is critical to predicting water availability

Firms and sustainability frameworks: Strategizing for efficient materials management

Developing solutions through frameworks geared toward strategic and sustainable materials management.

Sea rises and high rises: A model approach

Integrating sea level rise projections with cost-benefit analysis can provide guidance in assessing the trade-offs between coastal development and conservation objectives. 

Improving phosphorus use in the United Kingdom

Substance flow analysis of phosphorous within the food production system in the UK identifies areas for improved efficiencies. 

Manifesto for new dimensions in large carnivore conservation

Human prosperity relies on functioning ecosystem processes. Large carnivores play an integral role in their human and natural surrounding; integrative conservation strategies are warranted to ensure their persistence.

Ecology drones: New methods for capturing low-cost tropical forest conservation data

Attaching the cameras to aerial drones allows conservation researchers to observe everything from illegal logging activity to elephant migrations.

Stranded nuclear fuel poses new challenges

Since nuclear fission was discovered in 1938, the world has built many bombs, dropped a few, provided low emission energy, and facilitated the creation of long-lived nuclear waste that currently has nowhere to go

Water usage in cities tied to greenhouse gas emissions

In Changzhou, China 10% of the city’s energy footprint is related to water usage. Through strategic water conservation efforts, policy-makers can simultaneously conserve water and energy, save taxpayer money, and reduce climate change impacts.

Arsenic control during aquifer storage and recovery cycle tests in the Floridan aquifer

Aquifer storage and recovery may represent an efficient, effective, and safe water storage option for maintaining drinking water and environmental supplies in Florida.

How personality traits are associated with environmental engagement

Scientists find that the Big Five personality traits are related to environmental values and behavior at the individual and national level. Policymakers can use this information to tailor programs and policies to yield changes in environmental behavior. 

Public attitudes towards bike-sharing

Cities can implement effective bicycle-friendly programs by examining how different groups of people view bike transportation

Bringing home the newly packaged bacon

Reducing the amount of packaging and using better materials can reduce overall environmental burdens.

Property tax incentives benefit forest connectivity

Forest property tax incentives are effective tools for ensuring landscape connectivity, yet what type of program forest owners participate in differs by type of forest and owners. Policymakers can use this information to tailor programs and policies to increase forest conservation programs.

Structural wood as secondary resources

Analysis of wood in demolished building stock of south-east Germany during 2011 reveal 45% can potentially be recovered for secondary uses.

Does river restoration help reptiles and amphibians?

Scientists examine how riparian restoration projects influence amphibian and reptile species and suggest several methods that natural resource managers can use to improve river rehabilitation projects.

Clarifying what it means to be “interdisciplinary”

Building models, frameworks, and skills to more effectively solve environmental problems.
 
“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.”
~Albert Einstein~

Material exchanges lead to real industrial savings

 A closer look at the industrial exchanges taking place at an industrial park in Hawai’i reveals greenhouse gas savings equal to 25% of the State’s reduction goals.

A new environmental profession: the knowledge broker

Scientists and policy makers operate under very different time frames and professional priorities. Environmental research organizations should consider hiring knowledge brokers to ensure timely translation of scientific discoveries into regulations.

Measuring progress towards the millennium development goals

Environmental indices such as Yale’s Environmental Performance Index can help monitor progress towards achieving global sustainable development goals despite persistent challenges.

How cooking method and practice affects energy consumption

Whether you like your potatoes hashed, mashed, baked, broiled, crinkle cut or barbecued you are going to need to use energy to cook those spuds, but just how you accomplish this task has a lot to say about the energy footprint of your home-cooking.  

Will green innovation sharpen your horn in the market?

As the ecological challenges continue to arise, environmental innovations may be the key to a firm’s market-share expansion and flexibility against economic downturn.

Hurricane Season: Do Warmer Oceans Mean More Cyclone Damage?

As ocean surface temperatures heat up and urban coastal populations continue to grow, climate models predict an increase in the number of intense storms and corresponding economic damage.

Can playing games protect cities from climate change?

Social strategy games can help urban planners and developers learn the complex trade-offs between climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in cities.

Valuing South Africa's food waste

In countries like South Africa where food takes up as much as one-fifth of household spending, reducing waste from ‘farm to table’ is much more than a moral obligation - it is an economical way to maximize resources.

Bioenergy and Biochar – Two concepts brought together for sustainable land use?

Increasing carbon storage in soils through biochar and producing bioenergy from perennial plants can be a powerful means to mitigate climate change. Understanding soil microbial processes is crucial to achieve improved soil fertility, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration.

Melting ice in the arctic may change the equation on greenhouse gases

With sea-ice hitting an all-time low in September 2012, scientists are examining how the melt will affect the transfer of greenhouse gases in arctic plant communities.

Remote Sensing Closing in On Wildfire Prediction

Researchers are exploring the potential of using remote sensing of Live Fuel Moisture Content as a landscape level fire predictor.

Water for All, Disease for Some?

The most widespread techniques for increasing water supplies under climate uncertainty are also those with the greatest potential to spread disease. How can communities best adapt?

Repeated exposures may improve consumer acceptance of meat substitutes

Environmentally sustainable alternatives to meat have a greater chance of gaining a permanent place on the dinner plate if consumers increase familiarity of product.

Are wolves and road construction compatible?

Wolf movement is negatively affected by road construction, but more due to human activity than the presence of human infrastructure and machinery.

Diving tourists with environmental awareness can conserve oceans

Diving tourism can help conserve marine wildlife and coastal ecosystems. To live up to its potential to conserve nature as well as to sustain popularity diving management including environmental education is key.

Food for the city, by the city

The unprecedented growth of cities in African countries has the potential to convert urban farming, a historical means of survival, into a viable livelihood for urban dwellers.

Assessing tools for formalizing property rights

Offering property licenses to “squatter communities” may not make property rights more secure as investment and property markets fail to take newly registered property licenses seriously

How and why environmental issues are neglected

Understanding how and why people fail to recognize the importance of future environmental problems can be used to tailor responses to environmental information problems

Orchids flourish with assisted migration

Assisted migration is hotly debated as an aid for species adapting to climate change, but new research reveals survival success for orchids.

Utility demand-side management programs show lasting and lagged effects

Utility companies’ demand-side programs produced a 0.9 percent savings in electricity consumption over the period between 1992 and 2006 and a 1.8 percent savings overall. They also achieved their maximum impact a few years after launching and had a long-lasting effect.  Policy-makers should incorporate consideration of lasting and lagged effects of DSM programs into consideration.

Invasive species follow in human wake

Human population density is the strongest driving force behind invasive species in protected areas.

Identifying Waste Currents in Hawai’i

Local waste sources, accumulation points, and marine pathways around Hawai’i Island were determined to address the origin of the debris accumulating in Kamilo Point through the deployment of debris-catching booms and wooden drifter blocks.  

Quantifying the energy paradox: US consumers undervalue future fuel costs by 32 percent

When choosing fuel efficient vehicles, US consumers undervalue future fuel costs by valuing one dollar’s worth of future savings at 76 cents for the present price, a value gap of 32 percent.

Green spaces for all: A South African case study

Individuals of all economic backgrounds in developing countries demand public green spaces and are willing to give time and money for their maintenance. 

Fukushima radiation found in food webs in the Pacific

Radioactive material from the Fukushima disaster was detected in food webs in the Pacific. However, it isn’t substantial enough to be dangerous to humans or animals.

Developing national plans of action to protect sharks saves threatened species

Little is known about whether regional shark management plans are robust enough to sustainably manage shark stocks. However, implementing national action plans that adhere to international guidelines and that build on experiences from other fisheries can help save endangered shark species from extinction.

Friendliness linked to longer lives

Research into ancestral associations between personality and survival reveals that extraverted gorillas, like humans, live longer lives.

Can forests earn more money than oil palm plantations?

Sustainable forest management that aims at Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) includes payments to landowners and can provide economic benefits over alternative land uses such as oil palm plantations. If certain key factors are resolved, REDD+ can simultaneously achieve economic and social success while bringing ecological benefits and contributing to climate change mitigation.

Beer Hops Beneficial to Honey Bees

The key ingredient in beer is proven to reduce parasitic mite populations in honey bee colonies.

Using Land Use Policy and Zoning to protect environmentally sensitive areas from informal settlements

Scientists examine how zoning and land use policy can protect environmentally sensitive areas at the fringe of the cities from damage by shantytowns. Political and social factors can often cause these policies to fail.

Local solutions for local problems

In the search for effective adaptations to climate change, governments and international organizations may have little need to cast their nets far from home.

Shifting bee seasons could disrupt pollination

Spring is coming earlier for wild bees in the Northeast. This could have serious ecological consequences if bee seasons go out of sync with plant seasons.

Insect species with specialized diets may weather climate change after all

Butterflies and moths with specialized diets are utilizing human-altered environments to expand their ranges with climate change.

Finding wildlife habitat in urban areas

Scientists find that golf courses can be suitable nesting habitat for turtles.

Bed sheets and beyond: life cycle assessment results that can influence customer choice

Life-cycle assessments on bed sheets reveal criteria for ideal product.

Ecological and social price of mega-dam power projects might be too high

The Malaysian state of Sarawak started its implementation of a gigantic hydropower project with the goal to leapfrog into modernity. This causes a range of unfavorable consequences that should be carefully assessed by other countries in the region that plan to install similar projects.

Can cultural conservation pay biodiversity dividends?

Regions containing much of the biological diversity on Earth should be conserved for reasons beyond the plant and animal species within them.

Siting wind without the negative impacts

In Kansas, researchers are finding easy ways to minimize the negative impacts of wind energy while greatly surpassing the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2030 goals. 

Keeping track of storms to protect endangered turtles

Coastal managers must anticipate and follow tropical storm patterns to protect endangered sea turtle species more effectively.

End-of-life use for consumer cartons

Life-cycle assessments and carbon footprinting of viable recycling and reuse options for food cartons provides a quantitative look that can aid in decision-making processes.

Entrepreneur and decision makers’ attitudes matter in realizing tourism opportunities near national parks

Scientists explore how entrepreneurs and decision makers can make or break how a national park benefits a community

Smarter than the average bear: bears use nightfall to avoid hunters

Brown bears are escaping hunters by increasing their nocturnal activities. Yet their adaptations may come at a cost.

Economic impact of invasives in the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes – our largest global reserve of freshwater – are under attack from invasive species, and a new study provides an estimate of what this will cost us. 

Foreseeing and Managing the Water-Renewable Energy Nexus

The inevitable expansion in renewable energy infrastructure will require keen attention and careful management of restricted water supplies.

Prior engineering exacerbated effects of 'BP-Deepwater Horizon'

Recent studies at one of the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil spill sites has revealed that, preceding engineering activities diminished the resilience of the salt water marshes.

Coastal parks restore mental health, but environmental and weather conditions impact by how much

Coastal parks provide places for restoring psychological health, but climate change—which is predicted to change factors that impact perceived restorative value of beaches such as temperature, tide levels, and air and water quality—may affect society’s mental health. Leading scientists recommend that climate change adaptation plans include inland open space and shaded parks to provide places of mental restoration as beaches lose their restorative value.

The effect of price shocks and public appeals on energy consumption

Events that happened over a decade ago in California still provide insights into what could trigger consumers to cut back their energy use today.

Battling bed bugs: Over-the-counter foggers are ineffective

The do-it-yourself approach to bed bug control may be causing more harm to the indoor environment than good.

Only three countries lead 60 percent of global environmental technology innovations

Despite capital investment and regulatory initiatives worldwide, international environmental technology transfer between developed and developing country occurs rarely while 60 percent of related innovation is concentrated in 3 countries.

The challenge of solidifying safeguards in REDD+

The policies and measures aiming at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) have proliferated, resulting in varying interpretations of “safeguards”. Now that REDD+ is maturing, direct trade-offs between monetized emissions reductions and social and biodiversity values call for more explicit regulations in this approach to climate change mitigation.

Invasive snakes threaten biodiversity in Florida

The invasive Burmese python has been linked to mammal declines Florida’s Everglades National park. Researchers fear that some of the endangered species of the region may be in danger. 

Think you’re saving energy? You might want to think again

Research finds that people who believe they are helping the environment may actually know less about energy conservation than the average person.

Hydraulic Fracturing "cheat sheet" for Peer-reviewed Literature

Though shale gas extraction with the use of hydraulic fracturing has been underway in the U.S. for about a decade, peer-reviewed literature looking at its impacts has only begun to be published. Some of the articles that were among the first published on the environmental impacts, and remain among the most talked about, are described here.

Possible contamination pathways from fracking

Previous research on hydraulic fracturing has indicated possible contamination of water wells by methane. A new research article attempts to model potential contamination pathways to aquifers from Marcellus shale gas beds.

Shale-gas extraction and hydraulic fracturing accompany methane contamination of drinking water

Scientists explore how and what kind of methane makes it into natural gas wells.

Fracking and the threat of drinking water contamination

Drinking water wells are only 60 to 90 meters below the surface, while the Marcellus Shale is at depths of 1,200 to 2,500 meters. Still, new research suggests that, because of the hydrology of northeastern Pennsylvania, hydraulic fracturing poses a risk to these shallow drinking water resources.

Shale-gas extraction calls for water awareness in Texas

A new study calculates the total water usage for shale-gas production in Texas. While the total water usage doesn’t overwhelm state resources currently, the variability in local conditions over time will call for more careful consideration of water resources in the future.

The U.S. is developing sustainably: Re-measuring wealth redefines economic growth and sustainable development

Why has sustainable development been so hard to achieve? It turns out we have been measuring it incorrectly.

The true cost of water quality violations

The government is supposed to provide clean drinking water.  But, in many cases, they aren’t and consumers are paying for it.

The current rate of ocean acidification has no precedent in 300 million years of Earth history

Peering into the past can help us to discern the future.  But, when it comes to ocean acidification, past events may offer little indication of what is in store. 

Climate warming doesn’t guarantee that tree lines will rise

It is often assumed that global warming will make mountain trees climb uphill. A new long-view study shows that this is not always the case, meaning that managers must take heed when planning the future of their forests.

The true cost of power outages

Being afraid of the dark is apparently justified. 

Responsible design of electronic textiles

Electronic textiles are on the verge of mass-commercialization. Now is the time to think about their potential impacts…and act.

Property tax changes may not motivate private landowners to conserve

Many conservationists and land planners look to property tax policy to encourage private landowners to keep their land undeveloped. While property tax can hold back the conversion of rural land to some extent, its impact is limited.

Jellyfish blooms cause marine ecosystems to leak energy

Jellyfish blooms are an increasingly frequent problem in many parts of the world.  While it has long been understood that these blooms deprive fish and other species of food, new research sheds light on how they disrupt the ecosystem in ways that reduce the productivity of the oceans.

Avoiding the next Katrina: preparing for sea-level rise in the U.S.

Local leaders must prepare for sea-level rise and coastal disaster management. Besides property damage, issues of social justice will arise because minorities, the poor, and the most vulnerable people are at greater risk than others.

Injustice in U.S. water distribution

Some populations – often those with the fewest resources and constituting a racial minority – ultimately pay more for basic water and sewer services than others.

Does Al Gore affect environmentally related behavior?

Information and advocacy campaigns can affect environmentally related behavior, but not for long.   

Confusion and communication about climate change

Common terms have different meanings to scientists and the general public. Recognizing this simple fact will help bridge the gap in the climate science debate.  

Improving participatory planning meetings: learning from the people involved

In the summer of 1993, over 12,000 people flocked to the otherwise remote Clayoquot Sound to protest the logging of old growth forest on Meares Island, British Columbia. This precipitated changes in the public participation process that are still evolving twenty years later.

Economic growth by stricter regulation

More stringent air pollution standards could encourage, rather than restrict, economic growth.

Biodiversity left behind in climate change scenarios

Climate change predictions are classifying species in the wrong way – putting biodiversity at risk.

Wind and solar energy can be a powerful combination in New York State

Almost 30% of New York State’s electricity demand can be met by wind and solar energy, and having both forms of renewable energy operating at the same time can significantly reduce the problem of intermittency.

Untreated wastewater kills coral

Coral reefs are one of the most critically endangered ecosystems on the planet, and untreated human waste is contributing to their decline.