Special Issue "Global Warming, Environmental Governance and Sustainability Issues"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Will McConnell
Website
Guest Editor
Interdisciplinary Studies, Woodbury University, Los Angeles, CA 91504, USA
Interests: environmental sustainability; ocean vs. land-based environmental modeling; land and ocean species migration patterns in global warming; attitude/behavior gap; marketing, social marketing and business modeling for advancing environmental development and sustainability initiatives; “best practices” decision-making in climate change; interdisciplinary modeling of human behavior change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since the Brundtland Report (“Our Common Future”, 1987), multiple forms of environmental sustainability (sometimes used interchangeably with “sustainable development”) have emerged globally. However, given the tensions between “economics” and “environment” inherent in the language outlining the environmental development project(s) indicated in The Brundtland Report, no global or nationally coherent set of guidelines have emerged to coalesce “best decision” practices for nations (or internationally, across nations). Thus, both theoretically and practically, much of the most difficult work with regard to “saving the planet” remains before us. For example, few studies have emerged that address both land and ocean-based issues; environmental modeling, while increasingly sophisticated, does not produce a coherent understanding of how land- and ocean-based sustainability might be achieved. That is, our models currently address land-based issues, but few address how the entire earth might be impacted by global warming. The implications for the divide between ocean and land-based modeling are only beginning to be understood.

What seem to be the theoretical models and best practices for decision-making to date that promise the most significant advances in environmental sustainability across developed nations? What will produce sustainable development in developing countries? How can we work toward global/international binding agreements for change? How might we work toward a better modeling of the entire earth’s patterns of climate change, such that ocean models inform land-based models? How do we work beyond the current impasses of neoclassical (economically-based) sustainability to a conception and practice of consumption that exceeds the key, future-oriented statement in the Brundtland Report—not merely to meet the needs of the present while ensuring the needs of future generations, but to design or redesign consumption models themselves to contribute to, rather than detract from, the health of the environment? We welcome interdisciplinary approaches to emerging best practices in environmental sustainability.

Dr. Will McConnell
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Brundtland Report (1987)
  • neoclassical economics
  • global warming modeling
  • best practices decision-making
  • land-based environmental and economic modeling
  • ocean-based environmental modeling
  • attitude/behavior gap
  • marketing
  • social marketing and environmentally sustainable business approaches
  • consumption
  • theoretical and practical sustainability

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to Sustainability Journal Special Edition “Global Warming and Sustainability Issues”
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5671; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145671 - 15 Jul 2020
Abstract
Sustainability, in its multiple facets, is nothing if not interdisciplinary [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Warming, Environmental Governance and Sustainability Issues)

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Impact of artificially simulated precipitation patterns change on the growth and morphology of Reaumuria soongarica seedlings in Hexi Corridor of China
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2439; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062439 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Climate change has altered the existing pattern of precipitation and has an important impact on the resistance and adaptability of desert plants. However, the interactive impact and the main characteristics of changes in precipitation amount and precipitation frequency on desert plants are unclear. [...] Read more.
Climate change has altered the existing pattern of precipitation and has an important impact on the resistance and adaptability of desert plants. However, the interactive impact and the main characteristics of changes in precipitation amount and precipitation frequency on desert plants are unclear. Reaumuria soongarica seedlings were treated by artificially simulating changes in precipitation (30% reduction and 30% increase) and its frequency (50% reduction). We first introduced three morphological indicators (i.e., main root length/plant height ratio (RHR), above-ground radial density (ARD), and below−ground radial density (BRD)) and drew an abstract figure of seedling growth. This experiment confirmed the following: (1) The increase in precipitation noticeably increased the plant height, above-ground biomass, and total biomass of seedlings. (2) The plant height and the biomass of seedlings were more affected by precipitation amount than by precipitation frequency. No interaction was found between precipitation amount and precipitation frequency on the growth of seedlings. (3) The response of RHR to precipitation changes was extremely significant, increasing with decreasing precipitation and vice versa. (4) The ARD first increased then remained constant as precipitation increased, while ARD first decreased and then increased with decreasing precipitation. When precipitation increases, the BRD increases and the root system becomes relatively thicker and shorter, and vice versa. In this regard, R. soongarica seedlings mainly adapt to their resource supply by adjusting plant height, root length, thickness and biomass. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Warming, Environmental Governance and Sustainability Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
Mapping the Environmental Cost of a Typical Citrus-Producing County in China: Hotspot and Optimization
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 1827; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051827 - 28 Feb 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
The environmental sustainability of the largest citrus plantation globally is facing a great challenge in China. Further, there is a lack of quantitative, regional hotspot studies. In this study, the life cycle assessment (LCA) was used to quantify the environmental cost of citrus [...] Read more.
The environmental sustainability of the largest citrus plantation globally is facing a great challenge in China. Further, there is a lack of quantitative, regional hotspot studies. In this study, the life cycle assessment (LCA) was used to quantify the environmental cost of citrus production based on 155 farmers’ surveys from typical citrus orchards in Danling County, southwest China, which produced 0.65% of the country’s total citrus production. The results showed that the average values of environmental risk indicated by global warming potential (GWP), acidification potential (AP), and eutrophication potential (EP) were 11,665 kg CO2-eq ha−1, 184 kg SO2-eq ha−1, and 110 kg PO4-eq ha−1, respectively. The production and utilization of fertilizer ranked the first contribution to the environmental impacts among all the environmental impacts, which contributed 92.4–95.1%, 89.4–89.8%, and 97.8–97.9% to global warming potential, acidification potential, and eutrophication potential, respectively. Specific to the contribution of fertilizers to environmental costs, the production and utilization of nitrogen (N) fertilizer accounted for more than 95% of the total environmental costs. Thus, the spatial distribution of environmental costs in this county was well matched with that of N input. Compared with the average values of investigated 155 orchards, the high yield and high N use efficiency (HH) orchard group with younger and better educated owners achieved a higher citrus yield and N use efficiency with less fertilizer input and lower environmental costs. Five field experiments conducted by local government and Danling Science and Technology Backyard were used to further certify the reduction potential of environment costs. These field results showed that the local recommendation (LR) treatment increased citrus yield and N use efficiency by 1.9–49.5% and 38.0–116%, respectively, whereas decreased environmental costs by 21.2–35.2% when compared with the local farmer practice in the HH orchard group. These results demonstrated that an optimum nutrient management based on the local field recommendation in citrus-producing areas is crucial for achieving a win-win target of productivity and environmental sustainability in China and other, similar countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Warming, Environmental Governance and Sustainability Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
Mitigation of CO2 and N2O Emission from Cabbage Fields in Korea by Optimizing Tillage Depth and N-Fertilizer Level: DNDC Model Simulation under RCP 8.5 Scenario
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 6158; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11216158 - 04 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
In this study, we applied the Denitrification and Decomposition model to predict the greenhouse gas (GHGs; CO2 and N2O) emissions and cabbage yields from 8072 cabbage fields in Korea in the 2020s and 2090s. Model outputs were evaluated as a [...] Read more.
In this study, we applied the Denitrification and Decomposition model to predict the greenhouse gas (GHGs; CO2 and N2O) emissions and cabbage yields from 8072 cabbage fields in Korea in the 2020s and 2090s. Model outputs were evaluated as a function of tillage depth (T1, T2, and T3 for 10, 20, and 30 cm) and fertilizer level (F1, F2, and F3 for 100, 200, and 400 kg N ha−1) under the Representative Concentration Pathways 8.5 climate change scenario. For both time periods, CO2 emissions increased with tillage depth, and N2O emissions were predominantly influenced by the level of applied N-fertilizers. Both cabbage yields and GHGs fluxes were highest when the T3F3 farming practice was applied. Under current conventional farming practices (T1F3), cabbage yield was projected at 64.5 t ha−1 in the 2020s, which was close in magnitude to the predicted cabbage demand. In the 2090s, the predicted cabbage supply by the same practice far exceeded the projected demand at 28.9 t ha−1. Cabbage supply and demand were balanced and GHGs emissions reduced by 19.6% in the 2090s when 94% of the total cabbage farms adopted low carbon-farming practices (e.g., reducing fertilizer level). Our results demonstrate the large potential for Korean cabbage farms to significantly contribute towards the mitigation of GHGs emissions through the adoption of low-carbon farming practices. However, in order to incentivize the shift towards sustainable farming, we advise that lower yield and potential economic losses in farmlands from adopting low-carbon practices should be appropriately compensated by institutional policy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Warming, Environmental Governance and Sustainability Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
A Quantitative Analysis of Socio-Economic Determinants Influencing Crop Drought Vulnerability in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 6135; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11216135 - 03 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Drought events have significant impacts on agricultural production in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), as agricultural production in most of the countries relies on precipitation. Socio-economic factors have a tremendous influence on whether a farmer or a nation can adapt to these climate stressors. This [...] Read more.
Drought events have significant impacts on agricultural production in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), as agricultural production in most of the countries relies on precipitation. Socio-economic factors have a tremendous influence on whether a farmer or a nation can adapt to these climate stressors. This study aims to examine the extent to which these factors affect maize vulnerability to drought in SSA. To differentiate sensitive regions from resilient ones, we defined a crop drought vulnerability index (CDVI) calculated by comparing recorded yield with expected yield simulated by the Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) model during 1990–2012. We then assessed the relationship between CDVI and potential socio-economic variables using regression techniques and identified the influencing variables. The results show that the level of fertilizer use is a highly influential factor on vulnerability. Additionally, countries with higher food production index and better infrastructure are more resilient to drought. The role of the government effectiveness variable was less apparent across the SSA countries due to being generally stationary. Improving adaptations to drought through investing in infrastructure, improving fertilizer distribution, and fostering economic development would contribute to drought resilience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Warming, Environmental Governance and Sustainability Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
Net Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agriculture in China: Estimation, Spatial Correlation and Convergence
Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 4817; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11184817 - 04 Sep 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
The agricultural ecosystem has dual attributes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and absorption, which both influence the net amount of GHG. To have a clearer understanding of the net GHG effect, we linked up the emission and absorption of the agricultural ecosystem, estimated [...] Read more.
The agricultural ecosystem has dual attributes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and absorption, which both influence the net amount of GHG. To have a clearer understanding of the net GHG effect, we linked up the emission and absorption of the agricultural ecosystem, estimated the net emissions of 30 provinces in China from 2007 to 2016, then explored the spatial correlation from global and local perspectives by Moran’s I, and finally tested the convergence of the net emissions by α convergence test, conditional β convergence test and spatial econometric methods. The results were: (1) The average of provincial agricultural net GHG emissions was around 4999.916 × 104 t, showing a fluctuating trend in the 10 years. Meanwhile, the gaps among provinces were gradually widening, as the provinces with high emissions were mainly agglomerated in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, while those with less emissions mainly sat in the northwest. (2) The net emissions correlated spatially in close provinces. The agglomeration centers were located in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and the northern coastal region, showing “high–high” and “low–low” agglomeration, respectively. (3) The net emissions did not achieve α convergence or conditional β convergence in the whole country, but the growth rate had a significant positive spillover effect among adjacent provinces, and two factors, the quantity of the labor force and the level of agricultural economy, had a negative impact on the rate. It is suggested that all provinces could strengthen regional cooperation to reduce agricultural net GHG emissions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Warming, Environmental Governance and Sustainability Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainable Production of Sweet Sorghum as a Bioenergy Crop Using Biosolids Taking into Account Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3033; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113033 - 29 May 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Currently, little data are available on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from sweet sorghum production under temperate climate. Similarly, information on the effect of bio-based waste products use on the carbon (C) footprint of sorghum cultivation is rare in the literature. The aim of [...] Read more.
Currently, little data are available on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from sweet sorghum production under temperate climate. Similarly, information on the effect of bio-based waste products use on the carbon (C) footprint of sorghum cultivation is rare in the literature. The aim of this study was to evaluate the agronomical and environmental effects of the application of biosolids as a nitrogen source in the production of sweet sorghum as a bioenergy crop. The yield of sorghum biomass was assessed and the GHG emissions arising from crop production were quantified. The present study focused on whether agricultural use of sewage sludge and digestate could be considered an option to improve the C footprint of sorghum production. Biosolids—sewage sludge and digestate—could be recognized as a nutrient substitute without crop yield losses. Nitrogen application had the greatest impact on the external GHG emissions and it was responsible for 54% of these emissions. CO2eq emissions decreased by 14 and 11%, respectively, when sewage sludge and digestate were applied. This fertilization practice represents a promising strategy for low C agriculture and could be recommended to provide sustainable sorghum production as a bioenergy crop to mitigate GHG emissions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Warming, Environmental Governance and Sustainability Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
Economic Impacts of a Low Carbon Economy on Global Agriculture: The Bumpy Road to Paris
Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2349; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11082349 - 19 Apr 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Limiting climate change below a 2 °C temperature increase this century will require substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and the transition to a climate-friendly, low carbon society. In this paper, the economic impact of a less carbon-intensive economy on agricultural markets is [...] Read more.
Limiting climate change below a 2 °C temperature increase this century will require substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and the transition to a climate-friendly, low carbon society. In this paper, the economic impact of a less carbon-intensive economy on agricultural markets is estimated by means of an integrated modelling framework. First, the macroeconomic impacts of moving into a global low carbon economy are analysed by applying different carbon taxes in a general equilibrium modelling framework. Second, the potential adoption of emission mitigation technologies is quantified and used in the Aglink-Cosimo model to assess the impacts on agricultural markets of emission mitigation scenarios compatible with the 2.0 °C target prescribed in the Paris Agreement. Results for 2030 show reductions in global non-CO2 GHG emissions from agriculture (i.e., methane and nitrous oxide) by 10, 16 and 19% in 50, 100 and 150 USD/t CO2eq global carbon tax scenarios, respectively (Least Developed Countries excluded). Only between 0.6% and 1.3% of the global reduction is caused by indirect macroeconomic effects, although at the regional level they can cause up to 5.8% of the reduction in agricultural emissions. Results suggest that ambitious mitigation targets can provoke significant negative impacts on agricultural production and underline the importance of integrating GHG emission developments and impacts of related policies into agricultural market projections. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Warming, Environmental Governance and Sustainability Issues)
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