Land degradation (LD) is regarded as one of the most important processes leading to environmental degradation. LD specifically refers to a reduction in terms of economic productivity and capacity of providing ecosystem services by cropland, rangeland, and woodlands. Archetypal patterns or "syndromes" of LD can then be evaluated in the past, and scenarios developed for the future, informing sustainable land management strategies. Land cover is the visible result of the interactions between natural and socio-economic systems. It often reveals the occurrence of LD, either because it bears a direct effect on the processes or because it is associated with unsustainable land uses. Land use and land cover (LULC) are therefore essential for interpreting change trajectories associated with LD and deriving prediction rules. Whenever available, LULC data providing comparable classifications as well as the needed spatial resolution and time coverage can be derived from existing thematic cartography. In alternative, a procedure for the semi-automatic generation of LULC data from archive Landsat (7,5) satellite imagery since the mid-eighties, is under development. The procedure combines pixel and object oriented classifications and makes use of multi resolution segmentation for down dating and updating procedures. Past trajectories in LULC are analysed at regional level together with trends in other relevant drivers, for investigating associated land degradation syndromes (e.g. urban sprawl and soil sealing, aridity and climatic aggressiveness, water and soil erosion, agricultural pressure) through quantitative indicators of vulnerability (e.g. ESAI-Medalus, ESI LADA-FAO) and more "narrative" and participative interpretations (e.g. "story lines"). Climatic forecasts, population projections, as well as land use modelling are also used for developing LD scenarios.In the context of the research project AGROSCENARI (Scenarios of agriculture adaptation to climate change) promoted by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, the research line "Land Degradation Processes and Climate Change" intends to investigate trajectories and syndromes as well as scenarios of land degradation, especially in face of climate change, in a number of test areas in the country. Methodological issues and preliminary results are discussed in this paper, with particular reference to the case of the Emilia-Romagna Region and to degradation processes associated to urban growth and sprawl.
Social sustainability is known as the third leg of the "triple bottom line" of sustainability. It is the most difficult aspect of sustainability to understand in meaningful terms, to describe with specific applications, and to report on with success stories. Environmental stewardship and economic vitality, the other two legs of sustainability, are easier to define with more available and successful case study examples. Social sustainability, however, deals with our most critical daily "quality of life" issues. This paper will address the importance of social sustainability and its impact using an interdisciplinary approach that involves public, private, and academic sector approaches. First of all why is social sustainability so important today? Who is obligated or responsible to address our systemic social sustainability problems? Businesses in the private sector and NGO\'s in the public sector have all been focusing on social responsibility and corporate citizenship. Customers are demanding more of companies than just generating profits for the bottom line. Donors of foundations and NGO\'s want to know more about the impact of their dollar donation and the value that it creates. The roots of social sustainability deal with the premise that organizations have a responsibility to give back to society or the communities in which they operate, such as improving family and children welfare. Businesses and NGO\'s can take several approaches, such as ensuring their activities cause no harm to the environment or community. They can also pursue more proactive approaches, such as providing cash and in-kind contributions. Other organizations continue to raise the bar by adhering to corporate citizenship approaches. A citizenship role reflects more than just participation. It has at its core why as a community are we in this condition in the first place? This approach requires a holistic systems perspective with other community stakeholders to determine root causes. Now a new entity has arrived, social enterprise. Social enterprises are organizations that achieve their social or environmental mission by applying various business systems, processes, and best practices. The structure of these organizations can be either for profit or not for profit. A business can be certified as a B Corporation. There is also the L3 C organization, or Low-profit Limited Liability Company. The importance of social sustainability and its impact can now be seen in companies and organizations that pursue social responsibility, corporate citizenship, and social enterprise strategies. This paper will also provide examples of companies and organizations that have successfully implemented these strategies.
Human activities cause climate changes which are now recognized by the global community as the greatest environmental threat of the 21st century. The global climate system is being affected by the emission of greenhouse gases, of which the most significant is carbon dioxide. It is known that the building sector represents approximately 40% – 50% of the total energy consumption and production of emissions in developed countries. The buildings can make a marked contribution to energy and carbon conservation during all phases of their lives by sophisticated building design. It is recognized that operational energy analysis has dominated building energy research for many years when compared to embodied energy analysis. However, it has been shown, that the building becomes more operationally energy efficient, the embodied energy to operational energy ratio increases. The embodied energy and emissions are therefore likely to account for an increasingly large proportion of building-related life cycle CO2 eq. emissions in the future. The importance of embodied energy and CO2 eq. emissions analysis should therefore not be underestimated when assessing life cycle energy requirements, resource depletion and related environmental impacts. The study presents analyses of significant environmental indicators of different structural solutions of residential building in the paper. The results of analyses show how lower the energy demand and the carbon footprint of building can be reduced by increased use of sustainably sourced timber and nature building materials on vegetable base acting as a long-term carbon store. The environmental quality of the building materials in construction variants was evaluated by methodology LCA. The study was also evaluated thermo-physical data of construction solutions used in residential building for climatic conditions of Slovakia. The construction variants were compared in order to assure positive effect on the energy balance of operation of residential building and results in better passive control of summertime overheating. The aim of multicriterial analysis was to create high energy effective building constructions with minimal value of embodied energy and which act as a carbon store. The environmental and physical comparisons of the building construction variants were calculated in order to optimization of design of green house which is environmental evaluated by partial analyze of LCA at the conclusion of the paper.
Health, socioeconomic, education, and environmental (e.g. air and water quality) indicators are often correlated and may serve as markers for other underlying community issues. These diverse measurements are usually not fully integrated and rarely evaluated in the context of sustainability metrics. We derived an integrated community health index (ICHI) for 50 of the most populous cities in the US using extant environmental, health and sustainability metrics and assessed relationships with sociodemographic measures. To derive the ICHI we used data from two sources: 1) SustainLane\'s (www.sustainlane.com) 2008 report card on urban sustainability which includes metrics such as energy and climate change policy, metro street congestion, metro transit ridership, and natural disaster risk, and 2) Earth Day Network\'s (www.eathday.net) Urban environmental report including a health metric which incorporates asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity rates; and three environmental variables a) toxics and waste b) air quality c) drinking and surface water quality. Using these metrics we developed three separate indicators for health, sustainability and environment for each city. The ICHI was created by averaging across these three indicators. We used data from the 2010 Census (median family income, % of persons below the poverty level, % with a high school degree, % with college degree, and racial diversity (% White, nonwhite Black, Asian, and Hispanic) to assess relationships between the ICHI and sociodemographic characteristics. We compare mean values for various demographic measures for those cities with the "best" integrated community health index (highest 25th percentile) with those cities in the lower 25th percentile using t-tests. Cities with the better ICHI demonstrated 1) a higher % of persons with health insurance (20.1 vs 13.4 %; p< 0.001), 2) a lower (better) green economy score (13.7 vs. 36.8; p< 0.00001), 3) a lower toxic and waste score (2.4 vs.3.5; p< 0.001) and 4) a higher % of persons with college degrees (38.7 vs. 28.2%; p< .005). Comparing cites with lower percentages of individuals below the poverty level (highest 25th percentile) with those cities in the lowest 25thpercentile demonstrated 1) a lower score for toxic and waste (2.85 vs. 3.48; p
For environmental and economic conditions, precipitation can be considered as the most important climatic element. its drought and wet periods are known to change the natural water suply, river discharges and crops yields, as well as natural vegetation. Argentine agriculture was and surely will drive the national economy and the most important agriculture region is the Pampa or pampean flatlands, mainly because it allows the rain - fed crops production. The grain production increased from 23 to 90 million tones during the period 1970 - 2010 by means of the best available technology application and this growth had two components: a) the soybean which has now a ratio of 6 to 1 with respect to corn and b) the increase of precipitation amounts during the last decades of XX century. There is a need to maintain agricultural sustainability and for that changes in production patterns would be considered. On the other hand, the pampean flatlands experienced a succession of extreme hydrological events related to precipitation. Droughts and floods were a constant, according ancient documents during the Spanish domain, the argentine goverment and the installation of meteorological stations near 1870. Documented droughts occurred during 1604, 1614, 1620 and 1824 and floods in 1636, 1770, 1817, 1857 and 1900 can be mentioned as examples. The climate of the studied region according Thornthwaite classification is Perhumid, Humid and Subhumid from East to West, with fluctuations in their limits answering climate variability. And so, the agriculture was influenced. The surface of croplands is greater in the Perhumid and Humid climates regions then in the last one, where livestock is important. Subhumid region has suffered important changes in its land uses and surely, it will be vulnerable in the future. In this paper the three zones are studied using meteorological data, soil water balance and crops data. More recently there were important floods in 1980, 1985, 1993, 2001 and 2002 and severe droughts in 1978, 1983, 1989, 1995 and 2008. Extreme hydrological events acted in short periods but the losses reached high importance because precipitation variability acts over the soil water balance influencing its parameters and the water table depth.
1. Objective Two thirds of the time span to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have passed and only very few Sub-Saharan African countries seem to be on track in reaching the targets set in 2000 by the UN General Assembly. This paper takes a quantitative data-based approach to analyze whether the different development targets that are set in the MDGs are compatible with each other. The literature on the mutual relations between development indicators is inconclusive. A simple correlation analysis does not seem to be sufficient. 2. Methodology This paper applies econometric complementarity analysis to a panel of 42 Sub-Saharan African countries. Complementarity analysis is a method to identify relations between variables that are mutually reinforcing. In this paper three dimensions of sustainable social development are identified: standard of living, education and health. Standard of living is represented by GDP, household consumption expenditures and primary energy consumption per capita, education by the literacy rate and the primary school completion rate and health by life expectancy at birth and the reciprocal value of the under-5 mortality rate (the number of children surviving until the age of 5). From a development objective function, the corresponding first order conditions are calculated and extended using a partial adjustment model. The resulting system of structural equations is estimated using an instrumental variable approach. The instruments include indicators concerning the economic and population structure, but also some development indicators from the set of MDG targets, such as access to improved water sources, employment, immunization against measles or diphtheria, HIV infections, and school enrolment rates. 3. Results There exist significant complementarities between some of the development objectives, whereas there seems to be no significant relation for others. The literacy rate is an example of the latter. The most significant relations were found between the under-5 survival rate and the primary school completion rate. Further, the under-5 survival rate is complementary to household consumption expenditures and primary energy consumption per head. The primary school completion rate is complementary to GDP per capita. Using these results it is possible to identify mutually reinforcing and conflicting policy targets. In short, health and living conditions as well as education and production (GDP) are mutually reinforcing.
The main purpose of this work was the development of a tool to detect in real time (daily) deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, using satellite images from the MODIS/TERRA sensor and Artificial Neural Networks. The developed tool provides the parameterization of the configuration for the neural network training to enable finding the best neural architecture to address the problem and makes use of confusion matrixes to determine the degree of success of the network. Part of the city of Porto Velho, in Rondônia state, makes up the tile H11V 09 of the MODIS/TERRA sensor, which was used as the study area. A spectrum-temporal analysis of this area was made on 57 images from 20 of May to 15 of July 2003 using the trained neural network. This analysis allowed verifying the quality of the implemented neural network classification as well as helped the understanding of the dynamics of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. The great potential of neural networks for image classification was perceived with this work. However, the generation of consistent alarms, in other words, detecting predatory actions at the beginning; instead of firing false alarms is a complex task that is not yet solved. Therefore, the major contribution of this paper is to provide a theoretical basis and practical use of neural networks and satellite images to combat illegal deforestation.
Speaking about the problems of evaluation and management of sustainability usually set of sustainabilities or a structure of universal (from the Lat. universalis) sustainability is chosen, revealing the possibilities to formulate and solve the specific sustainability problems. Mostly the social, economic and ecological sustainability\'s subsystems are highlighted. And for each of subsystems fostering the universal sustainability the most important objectives are marked out: - For human sustainability is long term maintenance of well being; - For economical sustainability is long-term sufficiently high growth; - For ecology sustainability describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive overtime. The main objective of each and universal sustainability subsystems in a more simplified way could be understood as a subsystem\'s ability to maintain with the high level of guarantee the certain foundation parameter\'s level above the critical threshold, while dropping below the threshold the subsystem starts to lose its ability to rebuild itself as a system. However, undoubtedly the main question is rising - what kind of ability the universal sustainability should foster, i.e. the resultant of all sustainability subsystems. Searching for an answer to this question deterministically the idea is coming that this feature conceptually should be understood as preservation of the subsystems\' ability to interact. Actually the necessity of such feature is looking by analyzing the environmental sustainability also as other sustainability subsystems. However, for individual subsystems the interaction of their elements or their subsystems is conceptually better known and unfolding for management. In a case of universal sustainability there is a need for perfect formation of the concept of interaction indeed as also preparation of interaction of engineering foundations. The key tasks here are - to understand the content, methods and consequences of the universal sustainability and be able to simulate adequately those processes in order to create the assumptions for the various specialists of subsystems to discuss on the basis of quantitative information. Considerations about the universal sustainability apprehension and fostering are not abundant and one-directional, and even more - practically constructive. Actually in 1999-2005 was published ESI (Environmental Sustainability Index). However, it was rather measurements of environmental state\'s parameters or estimates, which are more suitable to compare environmental state of different countries. Later, it was substituted with the EPI (Environmental Performance Index), and as the name asserting it pretends to the instrument of sustainability anatomy.
The author is a natural scientist and philosopher who has been successfully involved in the global experience industry for more than 25 years. During this period of time he has developed a coherent, interdisciplinary body of knowledge that appears to be of essential interest as related to the transition towards a sustainable society: the Experience Science,. Important scientific inputs come from underlying disciplines like cybernetics, system theory, psychology, and cognitive science. One of the key findings of the Experience Science is the innate structure of human experiencing. Any human experience includes 5 different experiential domains that influence and regulate each other. These five domains are: the emotional domain (feeling); the mental imagery domain (mental narrating); the sensorimotor domain (acting & perceiving); the rational domain (rational reasoning); the communicational domain (conversing). In the light of the Experience Science the dilemma of the current transition process towards a sustainable society becomes clearly visible. Any relevant (academic and / or technological) attempt reduces the existing problems to more or less exclusively the rational domain. Although ever evolving rational knowledge indeed is an indispensable prerequisite for a sustainable future this is utterly reductionist. Societal change towards a sustainable life-style can only happen if the whole experiential system gets a chance to reorganize itself. This among others leads to the following logical consequence. Any rational knowledge is embedded in a both emotional and narrative knowledge system that underlies and frames human reasoning. As long as human learning restricts itself to an exclusively rational attempt the underlying emotional and narrative program remains untouched. The learner hence continues orienting his / her attention into the direction determined by the underlying emotional and narrative paradigm. The paper outlines the experiential determinants of change and analyzes their specific, constitutive interrelations. From this a holistic choreography of change learning is derived that pays tribute to the intrinsic transition principles represented by the human learner.  Frank, Gerhard. Erlebniswissenschaft. Über die Kunst Menschen zu begeistern. LIT, 2011.  Frank, Gerhard. The Experience Science. A new discipline on the rise. LIT, in print.
Any comprehensive knowledge system of a certain complexity grounds in specific assumptions that give an answer to the fundamental questions of human being. These assumptions that usually stand at the beginning of any organized reasoning, have long reaching and mighty effects since they form the underlying matrix of any doing that follows. Often these conceptual prerequisites are forgotten thus turning into hidden but nevertheless powerful mental forces that then rule and organize human behavior and reasoning from the unconscious. It is this unconscious level of human behavior that poses a specific challenge to the societal transition process towards a sustainable life-style. Three interrelated sets of mental assumptions can be identified in this respect that play a decisive role for the human mindset. These hidden factors of human action can be referred to as the ontological cause, the epistemological cause, and the operational cause of human behavior and decision making. Any culture provides its members with an ontological worldview thus directing the mindset of its people into a specific direction. The ontological conception of the western scientific mind strongly influences the way modern people try to overcome the challenge of their unsustainable life-style. Similarly modern knowledge is grounded in a specific epistemology that, mostly unknowingly guides the industrial mind. The epistemological bedrock of knowing has a lasting effect on human perception and communication; it controls the way modern people deal with their problems. The operational cause eventually turns modern life into a rat race. It subjects the societal metabolism to a linear concept of logic that profoundly runs afoul the cyclic structure of nature. Ontological, epistemological and operational attractors form a cohesive, cognitive base-matrix whose reorganization has to be perceived as the Gordon Knot of sustainability. The paper is identical with the prolog of the current book project of the author with the working title: The Change Science. Turning the human mindset towards a sustainable life-style. It investigates the logical and practical consequences that have to be drawn from the previous scientific work of G.Frank, in terms of a humanity under threat of self-imposed affliction.  Frank, Gerhard. Erlebniswissenschaft. Über die Kunst Menschen zu begeistern. LIT, 2011.  Frank, Gerhard. The Experience Science. A new discipline on the rise. LIT, in print.