Resources2016, 5(3), 23; doi:10.3390/resources5030023 (registering DOI) - published 29 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A thermodynamic approach based on exergy use has been suggested as a measure for the use of resources in Life Cycle Assessment and other sustainability assessment methods. It is a relevant approach since it can capture energy resources, as well as metal ores and other materials that have a chemical exergy expressed in the same units. The aim of this paper is to illustrate the use of the thermodynamic approach in case studies and to compare the results with other approaches, and thus contribute to the discussion of how to measure resource use. The two case studies are the recycling of ferrous waste and the production and use of a laptop. The results show that the different methods produce strikingly different results when applied to case studies, which indicates the need to further discuss methods for assessing resource use. The study also demonstrates the feasibility of the thermodynamic approach. It identifies the importance of both energy resources, as well as metals. We argue that the thermodynamic approach is developed from a solid scientific basis and produces results that are relevant for decision-making. The exergy approach captures most resources that are considered important by other methods. Furthermore, the composition of the ores is shown to have an influence on the results. The thermodynamic approach could also be further developed for assessing a broader range of biotic and abiotic resources, including land and water.
Abstract: Colombia is undergoing a period of rapid development. In particular, the Magdalena-Cauca Rivers basin, and the Mojana region within it, is going to experience rapid expansion in infrastructure growth, entailing hydropower development, road and navigability works along hundreds of kilometers of channels, as well as standard flood control measures. This paper argues that unexpected and undesired outcomes are very likely to occur as a consequence of the hydraulic and geomorphological reaction of river systems to such development schemes; namely, we foresee heightened hydro-morphological risks, along with the loss of environmental services and strong increases in maintenance costs. River behavior has been the subject of extensive study by diverse disciplines. As a result, key principles of fluvial dynamics have been elucidated and specific quantitative prediction tools developed. In this paper we do rely on this wealth of knowledge. However, since specific local information and interpretative tools in Colombia are either lacking or unreliable, it is inevitable that, at the moment, any basin scale analysis has to remain qualitative and must incorporate several assumptions, leaving it open to questioning and further refinement. Nonetheless, we argue that advancing such type of speculative conjectures is the “right thing to do”. The undeniably desirable but hard to achieve alternative of waiting for sufficient datasets and tools would entail excessive delay in obtaining relevant answers while large-scale development would continue to occur with potentially damaging results. Therefore, our analysis is conceived along the precautionary principle. This paper is primarily aimed at technical advisors of policy makers as it offers scientifically-based arguments for informing the political debate, hopefully guiding decision makers towards better choices. Rather than advocating specific solutions, the focus is on pointing out the likely adverse consequences of the currently planned course of action.
Abstract: In the Small Islands Developing State (SIDS) of St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean, the most destructive disasters in terms of human casualties have been the multiple eruptions of La Soufrière volcano situated in the north of St Vincent. Despite this major threat, people continue to live close to the volcano and national development plans do not include risk reduction measures for volcanic hazards. This paper examines the development options in volcanic SIDS and presents a number of conundrums for disaster risk management on the island of St Vincent. Improvements in monitoring of volcanic hazards and ongoing programmes to enhance communications systems and encourage community preparedness planning have increased awareness of the risks associated with volcanic hazards, yet this has not translated into more risk-informed development planning decisions. The current physical development plan in fact promotes investment in infrastructure in settlements located within the zone designated very high-hazard. However, this is not an anomaly or an irrational decision: severe space constraints in SIDS, as well as other historical social and economic factors, limit growth and options for low-risk development. Greater attention needs to be placed on developing measures to reduce risk, particularly from low-intensity hazards like ash, limiting where possible exposure to volcanic hazards and building the resilience of communities living in high-risk areas. This requires planning for both short- and longer-term impacts from renewed activity. Volcanic SIDS face multiple hazards because of their geography and topography, so development plans should identify these interconnected risks and options for their reduction, alongside measures aimed at improving personal preparedness plans so communities can learn to live with risk.
Abstract: Natural resources directly support rural livelihoods and underpin much of the wealth of rural and regional Australia. Climate change manifesting as increasing frequency and or severity of extreme weather events poses a threat to sustainable management of natural resources because the recurrence of events may exceed the resilience of natural systems or the coping capacity of social systems. We report the findings of a series of participatory workshops with communities in eight discrete landscapes in South East New South Wales, Australia. The workshops focused on how natural resource management (NRM) is considered in the Prevent-Prepare-Respond-Recover emergency management cycle. We found that NRM is generally considered only in relation to the protection of life and property and not for the intrinsic value of ecosystem services that support communities. We make three recommendations to improve NRM under extreme climate events. Firstly, the support to communities offered by emergency management agencies could be bolstered by guidance material co-produced with government NR agencies. Secondly, financial assistance from government should specifically target the restoration and maintenance of green infrastructure to avoid loss of social-ecological resilience. Thirdly, action by natural resource dependent communities should be encouraged and supported to better protect ecosystem services in preparation for future extreme events.
Abstract: The nexus of minerals and energy becomes ever more important as the economic growth and development of countries in the global South accelerates and the needs of new energy technologies expand, while at the same time various important minerals are declining in grade and available reserves from conventional mining. Unconventional resources in the form of deep ocean deposits and urban ores are being widely examined, although exploitation is still limited. This paper examines some of the implications of the transition towards cleaner energy futures in parallel with the shifts through conventional ore decline and the uptake of unconventional mineral resources. Three energy scenarios, each with three levels of uptake of renewable energy, are assessed for the potential of critical minerals to restrict growth under 12 alternative mineral supply patterns. Under steady material intensities per unit of capacity, the study indicates that selenium, indium and tellurium could be barriers in the expansion of thin-film photovoltaics, while neodymium and dysprosium may delay the propagation of wind power. For fuel cells, no restrictions are observed.
Abstract: The objectives of this review paper are to provide an overview of issues related to forest health and forest entomology, explain existing methods for forest insect pest detection, and provide background information on a case study of emerald ash borer. Early detection of potentially invasive insect species is a key aspect of preventing these species from causing damage. Invasion management efforts are typically more feasible and efficient if they are applied as early as possible. Two proposed approaches for detection are highlighted and include dendroentomology and near infrared spectroscopy (NIR). Dendroentomology utilizes tree ring principles to identify the years of outbreak and the dynamics of past insect herbivory on trees. NIR has been successfully used for assessing various forest health concerns (primarily hyperspectral imaging) and decay in trees. Emerald ash borer (EAB) (Agrilus planipennis), is a non-native beetle responsible for widespread mortality of several North American ash species (Fraxinus sp.). Current non-destructive methods for early detection of EAB in specific trees are limited, which restricts the effectiveness of management efforts. Ongoing research efforts are focused on developing methods for early detection of emerald ash borer.