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Committing and Following Through on Environmental Committments: NY Declaration on Forests- TERA

At the September 2014 United Nations Climate Summit, governments rallied around an international agreement—the New York Declaration on Forests—that underscored restoration of degraded ecosystems as an auspicious solution to climate change. Ethiopia committed to restore more than one-sixth of its land. Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, and Colombia pledged to restore huge areas [...]

Real-time anti-poaching tags could help prevent imminent species extinctions- TERA

At an estimated $7–10 billion annually, the global trade in illegal wildlife parts is comparable in economic value to human trafficking, and the smuggling of weapons and drugs (Wasser et al. 2008; Wyler & Sheikh 2013). Basic economic principles of supply and demand ensure that, as target species become ever rarer, their market value continues [...]

The endangered palates list- TERA

This article gives a rundown of a few of the most vulnerable crops in a changing climate: coffee, cocoa, maple syrup, cherries, and tobacco. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.348.6238.954-a

Mystery Disease Kills 120K Saigas in Central Asia

Last month, a mysterious disease swept through the remaining saiga herds, littering the steppes with carcasses. The so-called die-off claimed more than a third of the world’s population in just weeks. “I’m flustered looking for words here,” said Joel Berger, a senior scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “To lose 120,000 animals in two or three [...]

Uncovering hidden worlds of ocean biodiversity- TERA

A bewildering swirl of tiny creatures dominates life in the oceans. More numerous than the stars in the universe, these organisms serve as the foundation of all marine food webs, recycling major elements and producing and consuming about half the organic matter generated on Earth each year (1). In this issue, five research articles from [...]

Cahokia culture’s emergence and decline coincided with shifts of flood frequency on the Mississippi River

Our paper evaluates the role that flooding played in the emergence and decline of Cahokia—the largest prehistoric settlement in the Americas north of Mexico that emerged in the floodplain of the Mississippi River around A.D. 1050. We use sediment cores to examine the timing of major Mississippi River floods over the last 1,800 y. These [...]

Integrated life-cycle assessment of electricity-supply scenarios confirms global environmental benefit of low-carbon technologies- TERA

Decarbonization of electricity generation can support climate-change mitigation and presents an opportunity to address pollution resulting from fossil-fuel combustion. Generally, renewable technologies require higher initial investments in infrastructure than fossil-based power systems. To assess the tradeoffs of increased up-front emissions and reduced operational emissions, we present, to our knowledge, the first global, integrated life-cycle assessment [...]

Substitution Potential of 62 Metals in Their Major Uses- TERA

We studied substitution potential by generating a comprehensive summary of potential substitutes for 62 different metals in all their major uses and of the performance of the substitutes in those applications. As we show herein, for a dozen different metals, the potential substitutes for their major uses are either inadequate or appear not to exist [...]

Identifying and designing chemicals with minimal acute aquatic toxicity- TERA

Industrial ecology has revolutionized our understanding of material stocks and flows in our economy and society. For this important discipline to have even deeper impact, we must understand the inherent nature of these materials in terms of human health and the environment. This paper focuses on methods to design synthetic chemicals to reduce their intrinsic [...]

The material footprint of nations: a survey of 186 countries

Metrics on resource productivity currently used by governments suggest that some developed countries have increased the use of natural resources at a slower rate than economic growth (relative decoupling) or have even managed to use fewer resources over time (absolute decoupling). Using the material footprint (MF), a consumption-based indicator of resource use, we find the [...]