Food waste (FW) generates large upstream and downstream emissions to the environment and unnecessarily consumes natural resources, potentially affecting future food security. The ecological impacts of FW can be addressed by the upstream strategies of FW prevention or by downstream strategies of FW recycling, including energy and nutrient recovery. While FW recycling is often prioritized in practice, the ecological implications of the two strategies remain poorly understood from a quantitative systems perspective. Here, we develop a multilayer systems framework and scenarios to quantify the implications of food waste strategies on national biomass, energy, and phosphorus (P) cycles, using Norway as a case study. We found that (i) avoidable food waste in Norway accounts for 17% of sold food; (ii) 10% of the avoidable food waste occurs at the consumption stage, while industry and retailers account for only 7%; (iii) the theoretical potential for systems-wide net process energy savings is 16% for FW prevention and 8% for FW recycling; (iv) the theoretical potential for systems-wide P savings is 21% for FW prevention and 9% for FW recycling; (v) while FW recycling results in exclusively domestic nutrient and energy savings, FW prevention leads to domestic and international savings due to large food imports; (vi) most effective is a combination of prevention and recycling, however, FW prevention reduces the potential for FW recycling and therefore needs to be prioritized to avoid potential overcapacities for FW recycling.
Wind power generation is likely to constitute one of the most extensive human physical exploitation activities of European marine areas in the near future. The many millions of migrating birds that pass these man-made obstacles are protected by international obligations and the subject of public concerns. Yet some bird species are more sensitive to bird-wind turbine mortality than others. This study developed a simple and logical framework for ranking bird species with regard to their relative sensitivity to bird-wind turbine-collisions, and applied it to a data set comprising 38 avian migrant species at the Nysted offshore wind farm in Denmark. Two indicators were selected to characterize the sensitivity of each individual species: 1) relative abundance and 2) demographic sensitivity (elasticity of population growth rate to changes in adult survival). In the case-study from the Nysted offshore wind farm, birds of prey and waterbirds dominated the group of high priority species and only passerines showed a low risk of being impacted by the wind farm. Even where passerines might be present in very high numbers, they often represent insignificant segments of huge reference populations that, from a demographic point of view, are relatively insensitive to wind farm-related adult mortality. It will always be important to focus attention and direct the resources towards the most sensitive species to ensure cost-effective environmental assessments in the future, and in general, this novel index seems capable of identifying the species that are at high risk of being adversely affected by wind farms.
Here, we review the current genetic approaches for grass improvement and their potential for the enhanced breeding of new varieties appropriate for a sustainable agriculture in a changing global climate. These generally out-breeding, perennial, self-incompatible species present unique challenges and opportunities for genetic analysis. We emphasise their distinctiveness from model species and from the in-breeding, annual cereals. We describe the modern genetic approaches appropriate for their analysis, including association mapping. Sustainability traits discussed here include stress resistance (drought, cold and pathogeneses) and favourable agronomic characters (nutrient use efficiency, carbohydrate content, fatty acid content, winter survival, flowering time and biomass yield). Global warming will predictably affect temperature-sensitive traits such as vernalisation, and these traits are under investigation. Grass biomass utilisation for carbon-neutral energy generation may contribute to reduced atmospheric carbon emissions. Because the wider potential outcomes of climate change are unpredictable, breeders must be reactive to events and have a range of well-characterised germplasm available for new applications.
China's rapidly growing economy and energy consumption are creating serious environmental problems on both local and global scales. Understanding the key drivers behind China's growing energy consumption and the associated CO2 emissions is critical for the development of global climate policies and provides insight into how other emerging economies may develop a low emissions future. Using recently released Chinese economic input-output data and structural decomposition analysis we analyze how changes in China's technology, economic structure, urbanization, and lifestyles affect CO2 emissions. We find that infrastructure construction and urban household consumption, both in turn driven by urbanization and lifestyle changes, have outpaced efficiency improvements in the growth of CO2 emissions. Net trade had a small effect on total emissions due to equal, but significant, growth in emissions from the production of exports and emissions avoided by imports. Technology and efficiency improvements have only partially offset consumption growth, but there remains considerable untapped potential to reduce emissions by improving both production and consumption systems. As China continues to rapidly develop there is an opportunity to further implement and extend policies, such as the Circular Economy, that will help China avoid the high emissions path taken by today's developed countries.
Economic liberalization in former socialist countries may have various implications for their environmental sustainability. Positive effects of this process are potentially associated with improved efficiency, investments into cleaner technologies, responsiveness to environmentally aware markets, and ending subsidies to heavy industries. On the other hand, market liberalization may result in weaker environmental controls, economic instabilities distracting attention from environmental issues, and increasing orientation towards profit-making leading to more intensive exploitation of natural resources. In addition, trade liberalization may result in shifts towards more pollution and resource-intensive industries. This article seeks to quantify effects of economic restructuring in Russia on air pollution from productive economic sectors in the 1990s. Air pollution in Russia had significantly declined in 1991-1999, however, this decline was largely due to economic decline, as the overall pollution intensity of the economy had decreased only slightly. The factors that affected the pollution intensity are: (1) a decrease in the combined share of industrial and transport activities in the economy and (2) changing pollution intensities of the industrial and transport sectors. The pollution intensity of the Russian industry had remained relatively stable during the 1990s. This was the result of the two opposite and mutually canceling trends: (a) increasing shares of pollution-intensive branches such as metal smelting and oil production vs. less pollution intensive manufacturing and (b) decline in pollution intensities within the industrial branches. The article proposes a methodology by which the contribution of both factors to the overall pollution intensity of the industrial sector can be quantified. The pollution intensity of the Russian transport sector appears to have declined in the first half of the 1990s and increased in the second half. The most recent trend can be explained by a rising proportion of private motorcars used for transportation of people and goods instead of traditional rail and other public transport. The findings of the paper demonstrate that shifts towards more pollution-, resource- and energy-intensive industries as a result of economic liberalization emerges as a significant negative factor of the process of economic transition threatening sustainability of emerging market economies. A research agenda to further investigate these impacts is proposed.
Emission measurements of heavy metals with the European standard reference methods EN 14385 and EN 13211-observations from interlaboratory comparison (ILC) measurements performed at waste-to-energy plant in Finland.
This study presents the heavy metal results obtained during Finnish interlaboratory comparison (ILC) measurements made during 2019. The aim of this measurement campaign was to verify the skills of accredited emission measurement teams and also to evaluate the challenges that stack testing teams face in the future when emission levels decrease. ILCs have been organized in Finland since the 1970s. ILCs provide an important platform for stack testing teams so that they can verify their measurement skills and also for the dissemination of knowledge. The knowledge about the measurement standards and their requirements has improved among stack testing teams during past years in Finland. As emission levels get lower, they still need to pay more attention to some quality assurance procedures, e.g. to method and field blanks. Based on the observations of this ILC for heavy metals it can be noted that the challenges that stack testing teams face are related to the fact that no guidance is given in the standard reference methods EN 13211 and EN 14385 for example on the calculation of measurement uncertainties and how results below limit of quantification should be taken into account. These reference methods were suitable for their purpose at the time they were validated. However, emission levels are now more stringent and it is challenging to measure them with acceptable uncertainty criteria. As a consequence, there is a clear need for harmonized approaches in Europe for consistent implementation of standards and regulations. Key issues where guidance should be provided include realistic measurement uncertainties at low concentration levels, reporting low concentrations and guidance on how measurement uncertainties should be taken into account when the results are used for compliance assessment. The overall aim is to ensure that even with low emission levels, the emission measurement results would be transparent and robust throughout the EU. Implications: Interlaboratory comparison measurements between stack testing teams are the most important tool to verify the quality of the measurements. Participation in an appropriate ILC is often mandatory to successfully achieve accreditation under ISO/IEC 17025. Such campaigns also provide an efficient platform for dissemination of knowledge. In addition, ILCs can be used to clarify the challenges that teams nowadays face when measuring low emission levels, thus creating important information for the revision work of standards.
The current landfill gas (LFG) management (based on flaring and utilization for heat generation of the collected gas) and three potential future gas management options (LFG flaring, heat generation and combined heat and power generation) for the Old Ammässuo landfill (Espoo, Finland) were evaluated by life-cycle assessment modeling. The evaluation accounts for all resource utilization and emissions to the environment related to the gas generation and management for a life-cycle time horizon of 100 yr. The assessment criteria comprise standard impact categories (global warming, photo-chemical ozone formation, stratospheric ozone depletion, acidification and nutrient enrichment) and toxicity-related impact categories (human toxicity via soil, via water and via air, eco-toxicity in soil and in water chronic). The results of the life-cycle impact assessment show that disperse emissions of LFG from the landfill surface determine the highest potential impacts in terms of global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion, and human toxicity via soil. Conversely, the impact potentials estimated for other categories are numerically-negative when the collected LFG is utilized for energy generation, demonstrating that net environmental savings can be obtained. Such savings are proportional to the amount of gas utilized for energy generation and the gas energy recovery efficiency achieved, which thus have to be regarded as key parameters. As a result, the overall best performance is found for the heat generation option - as it has the highest LFG utilization/energy recovery rates - whereas the worst performance is estimated for the LFG flaring option, as no LFG is here utilized for energy generation. Therefore, to reduce the environmental burdens caused by the current gas management strategy, more LFG should be used for energy generation. This inherently requires a superior LFG capture rate that, in addition, would reduce fugitive emissions of LFG from the landfill surface, bringing further environmental benefits.
Economic growth is frequently touted as a cure for environmental ills, particularly for those in Third World countries. Here we examine that paradigm in a case study of Alberta, Canada, a wealthy, resource-rich province within a wealthy nation. Through provincial-scale datasets, we examine the increasing pressures of the forest, petroleum, and agricultural industries upon the ecosystems of Alberta within management, economic, and political contexts. We advance the thesis that economic activity leads to environmental degradation unless ecosystem-based management is integrated into economic decision making. Agricultural lands cover 31.7%, and forest management areas leased to industry cover 33.4% of Alberta; both continue to increase in extent. The rate of logging (focused on old-growth by government policy) continues a decades-long exponential rise. Current Alberta annual petroleum production is 52.5 million m3 crude oil and 117 billion m3 of gas. As of early 1999, there were approximately 199,025 oil and gas wells and a conservative total of approximately 1.5-1.8 million km of seismic lines in Alberta. Fire occurrence data indicate no downward trends in annual area burned by wildfire, which may be characterized as driven by climate and inherently variable. When logging and wildfire are combined, the annual allowable cut in Alberta is unsustainable, even when only timber supply is considered and the effects of expanding agriculture and oil and gas activities are ignored. Ecosystem degradation in Alberta is pervasive and contrasts prominently with a high standard of living. A wealth of ecological data exists that indicates current resource-based economic activities are non-sustainable and destructive of ecosystem health yet these data are not considered within the economic decision making process. Given the complex, compounded, and increasing ecosystem perturbations, a future of unpleasant ecological surprises is likely. We conclude with tentative predictions as to where current trends in Alberta may lead if decisions biased against ecosystems continue.