Challenges2014, 5(1), 100-111; doi:10.3390/challe5010100 (doi registration under processing) - published online 7 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Development of energy systems, based on forest biomass, is a challenging issue in India. The study investigated perceptions of fifty-five Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers in relation to the potential benefits and challenges associated with the development of forest-based bioenergy (FBE) projects in India when they participated in two training programs in Finland during 2010. They generally agreed that development of FBE projects could have beneficial impacts on job creation, income generation, rural development, and restoring ecological degradation. They perceived lack of public acceptance and political support, impacts on biodiversity, and lack of technologies and infrastructure as the considerable challenges to the development of FBE projects in India. The study could provide some policy directions towards developing the FBE sector in India. It recommends conducting further studies to include a larger group of experts and other stakeholders to investigate the broader societal perceptions of FBE projects in India. In addition, the study also recommends building the capacity of the IFS officers so that they can play a key role from the government side for developing the FBE sector in the country.
Challenges2014, 5(1), 75-97; doi:10.3390/challe5010075 - published online 17 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This study demonstrates a novel application of effect-based toxicity testing for streams that may provide indications of co-perturbation to ecological and human health. For this study, a sediment contact assay using zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos was adapted to serve as an indicator of teratogenic stress within river sediments. Sediment samples were collected from Lake Michigan tributary watersheds. Sediment contact assay responses were then compared to prevalence of congenital heart disease (CHD) and vital statistic birth indicators aggregated from civil divisions associated with the watersheds. Significant risk relationships were detected between variation in early life-stage (ELS) endpoints of zebrafish embryos 72 h post-fertilization and the birth prevalence of human congenital heart disease, low birthweight and infant mortality. Examination of principal components of ELS endpoints suggests that variance related to embryo heart and circulatory malformations is most closely associated with human CHD prevalence. Though toxicity assays are sometimes used prospectively, this form of investigation can only be conducted retrospectively. These results support the hypothesis that bioassays normally used for ecological screening can be useful as indicators of environmental stress to humans and expand our understanding of environmental–human health linkages.
Challenges2014, 5(1), 43-74; doi:10.3390/challe5010043 - published online 13 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The complex and strong link between soil degradation, climate change and food insecurity is a global challenge. Sustainable agricultural systems must be integral to any agenda to address climate change and variability, improve renewable fresh water supply and quality, restore degraded soils and ecosystems and advance food security. These challenges are being exacerbated by increasing population and decreasing per capita arable land area and renewable fresh water supply, the increasing frequency of extreme events, the decreasing resilience of agroecosystems, an increasing income and affluent lifestyle with growing preference towards meat-based diet and a decreasing soil quality and use efficiency of inputs. Reversing these downward spirals implies the implementation of proven technologies, such as conservation agriculture, integrated nutrient management, precision agriculture, agroforestry systems, etc. Restoration of degraded soil and desertified ecosystems and the creation of positive soil and ecosystem C budgets are important. Urban agriculture and green roofs can reduce the energy footprint of production chains for urban and non-urban areas and enhance the recycling of by-products. Researchable priorities include sustainable land use and soil/water management options, judicious soil governance and modus operandi towards payments to land managers for the provisioning of ecosystem services.
Challenges2014, 5(1), 35-42; doi:10.3390/challe5010035 - published online 7 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The proposal deals with electromagnetic (EM) wave scattering by one and many small impedance particles of an arbitrary shape. Analytic formula is derived for EM wave scattering by one small impedance particle of an arbitrary shape and an integral equation for the effective field in the medium where many such particles are embedded. These results are applied for creating a medium with a desired refraction coefficient. The proposed theory has no analogs in the literature. (Mathematical Subject Classiffication: 35J05, 35J25, 65N12, 78A25, 78A48.)
Challenges2014, 5(1), 26-34; doi:10.3390/challe5010026 - published online 8 January 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Pingtung County, located in the southernmost part of Taiwan, has been selected as one of the Smarter Cities Challenge by the International Business Machines (IBM) in 2013 due to its innovative promotion for renewable energy exploitation in recent years. In this regard, the objective of this paper will be to present an in-depth analysis of the success of environmental sustainability efforts through aggressive measures and profitable plans by this tropical county. The description in the paper is, thus, summarized on the central regulations and economic measures for promoting renewable energy in Taiwan, focusing on the feed-in tariff (FIT). Then, some innovative promotion plans for renewable energy in Pinugtung County, including swine-derived biogas-to-power and “Raise Water, Grow Electricity”, were further addressed to show the preliminary results under the funding supports of the central and local governments. With a practical basis of the total swine population (around 433,000 heads), from the farm scale of over 5,000 heads in Pingtung County, a preliminary analysis showed the annual benefits: methane reduction of 2.2 Gg, electricity generation of 8.3 × 106 kilowatt-hour (kW-h), equivalent electricity charge saving of 8.3 × 105 US Dollar (USD), and equivalent carbon dioxide mitigation of 50.9 thousand tons (Gg).