The natural environment is where our human societies are based on and draw resources from. We breathe air, drink water, reside on land, harvest the crops and manufacture the goods that we need with biotic and abiotic matters from the environment. It also absorbs the wastes that we discharge, forming ecosystems that have enveloped us for millions of years (Donald, 2009). However, due to the rapid population increase, industrialization and excessive use of fossil fuels in the past two centuries, severe environmental problems have emerged, among which energy and climate change are amongst the most concerned (Harris, 2012). Meanwhile, besides the geologic hazards such as earthquake, volcano eruptions and landslides that have always presented threats to human beings, atmospheric hazards such as floods and draughts are now intensified due to climate changes induced by human activities (IPCC, 2014). This special issue addresses on these three key issues: disaster mitigation, energy and climate change.
Due to its intrinsic scenery, many tourism destinations are located in areas that are exposed to various natural hazards such as tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and high winds. In particular, coastal tourism presents numerous risks unique to the tourism sector due to differences in the type of vulnerabilities faced by tourists compared to other types of communities. Tourists are transient, may lack knowledge of local hazards, perceive risks differently, and may present various communication barriers. Physical mitigation may also be limited as local communities rely on the preservation of the area’s natural assets. Research on the effects of disasters in tourism destinations have generally fallen into the categories of emergency management, which is focused on the preparedness and response phases, or solutions, adopting a structural engineering approach. Long-term solutions that utilize non-structural approaches have been acknowledged as vital towards mitigation in various literatures, but in reality, have been scarcely applied. As disasters can constitute a wicked rather than tame problem, long-term solutions should include the input of multiple stakeholders striving towards a working solution that is constantly updated through feedback loops. Urban planning can provide such theoretical backgrounds that are missing from tourism planning studies, but have thus far, been limited to the needs of the permanent communities and not the transient community. This paper examines literature on disaster management planning in coastal destinations and bridges the gap between the fields of urban planning, disaster management and tourism planning, by suggesting the utilization of social learning to address disaster management gaps found in existing literature.
Intensive rainfall and frequent inundation have become a serious problem in urban areas all over the world. Climate change and heat island effect may be the cause of the phenomena. Widespread impervious pavement/surface of the ground makes things worse. In order to promote an effective river basin management in urban areas and reduce runoff, a registration system called “Safety Plan for 100mm/h-Rainfall” (“100mm/h Anshin Plan” in Japanese), a scheme for preventing and mitigating inundation caused by extremely heavy, short-term rainfall (such as 100mm/h-rainfall) was established in April 2013 by the central government in Japan. This study carried out a questionnaire survey to examine how municipalities effectively utilize the registration scheme for their watershed management. As a result, it is found that there are municipalities who have started/revised subsidizing installation of private rainwater retention/infiltration facilities in association with the registration system; however, municipalities in general are not so active in promoting runoff reduction by subsidizing private facilities. In addition, in the plans emphasizing public works for runoff reduction, public involvement is not so active, whereas in the plans devised with relatively new committees of watershed management, public involvement as well as private retention activities tend to be active. Based on the results, prospects of how a safety plan should be utilized in an urban watershed are discussed and examined from practicality’s point of view.
As an agricultural country, Thailand produces a large amount of agricultural products and the stench of decomposing biomass is a common problem in many local communities. To dispose of biomass, some communities have utilized it to produce renewable energy or other products for household purposes. Currently, some villages have successfully implemented biomass utilization technology at the household level. Villagers have adopted skills and technical knowledge on biomass waste management from institutions dedicated to research on the development of renewable energy technology at the community level and are now able to mitigate and control waste problems systematically. Presently, biomass utilization technologies in Thailand are able to produce biogas, biodiesel, livestock feeds and organic fertilizers. In addition to the aforementioned environmental and economic benefits, villages that have adopted biomass utilization technology were also able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prevent deforestation and reduce household spending for energy and farming products. This paper investigates the current status of the general renewable energy policy in Thailand with specific focus on biomass utilization as a renewable energy source. Case studies further illustrate how these energy policies are being implemented at the community level. We apply the strength, weakness, opportunity and threat (SWOT) analysis to further analyze the case studies, identify potential issues and propose counter measures to solve them.
With the rapid urbanization progress of China, a study on an urban GHG inventory is of great significance. However, related studies in China are still in the exploratory stage. This paper firstly introduces three major urban GHG inventory accounting methods and related issues with regard to Chinese cities, and then reviews the published studies of urban GHG inventories in China in the past few years. Methodology frameworks, gas types, emission scopes, geographical boundaries are examined and compared. With great distinctions in the accounting methods and contents, there is no direct comparability between the research results. However, the following characteristics can still be found: the GHG emissions per capita and GHG emissions per unit of GDP are higher than the world average level, and the total GHG emissions maintains an increasing trend, although the GHG emissions per unit of GDP keeps declining. Currently, researches on the urban GHG inventory in China are mainly based on the non-urban-level IPCC Guidelines and Provincial-level guidelines. The release of urban-level GHG inventory estimation guidelines in China is expected to provide unified standards for related studies in the future.
Urban growth modelling has attracted considerable attention over the past two decades. This article reviews the driving factors that have been identified and studied in cellular automata (CA); one of the popular methods in urban growth modelling. Over a hundred articles published between 1993 and 2012 were selected and reviewed. We extracted the driving factors from CA transition rules and arranged them in a list. The list contributes to early spatial research for the selection of factors in CA models. Our analyses show that studies between 1993 and 2000 mainly focused on using earth’s physical factors in predicting urban growths, while recent studies combined them with socioeconomic factors, resulting with models with a greater number of inputs. Nevertheless, the human-behaviour factors impacting urban growth were generally under-represented. Geographically, more applications of the CA urban growth models have been seen in the developed countries compared with those in the developing countries, suggesting substantial work is needed to address issues in understanding and modelling rapid urban growth processes in developing countries.