Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Where China goes, the rest follow in global neighborhood

30.06.2005


Globalization is making it a small world, after all, and the costs of this newfound neighborliness are high.

Two internationally acclaimed scientists present sweeping evidence that China ’s challenges – from polluted air and water to making and consuming goods to family life – already are making a big impact on the environment and human well-being in China and other parts of the world, including America and Europe .

The developed nations must take a more active role – with policy, with aid and through business – to assist and support developing countries and recognize that the only real borders are drawn on paper.



“The world is increasingly connected,” said Jianguo “Jack” Liu, the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University . “If we want to make the environment in China better – and there are many important reasons for us to – the whole world needs to do something about it.”

Liu, University Distinguished professor and director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at MSU, has joined with Pulitzer-prize winning
author Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at UCLA, to write
“China’s Environment in a Globalizing World – How China and the Rest of the
World Affect Each Other” in the June 30 issue of the international science journal Nature.

In the cover-story feature article, Liu and Diamond outline the striking changes to China’s environment, including:

  • Much of China ’s rapidly growing economy, coal mining and cement, paper, and chemical production, still rests on outdated, inefficient, or polluting technology. Industrial energy efficiency overall is much lower than that of the developed nations.
  • Almost all coastal seas are polluted.
  • Freshwater fisheries are being severely degraded by pollution and overfishing.
  • Environmental damage has caused severe economic losses, social conflicts and human health dangers.
  • Lifestyle changes have meant that the number of China ’s households grew almost three times as fast as its population during 1985-2000 because average household size declined dramatically. Reduction in household size alone led to 80 million more households in China from 1985-2000, an increase exceeding the total number of households in Russia and Canada. Smaller households use resources less efficiently.

“China’s environmental problems also spill over to other countries, which are increasingly affected through sharing the same planet, atmosphere, and oceans with China,” Liu and Diamond note. “In turn, other countries affect China’s environment through globalization as well as through their own environmental pollution and resource exploitation.”

Liu and Diamond itemize a litany of push and pull between China and the rest of the world. The hallmark is environmental damage which places economic, social and health burdens with which China is ill-equipped to cope.

The developed nations, Liu and Diamond argue, carry a strong moral obligation to lead in helping the developing nations protect the environment and achieve economic sustainability. In the developed nations, the big picture is easier to see on a full stomach. Protections – such as laws, zoning rules and regulations – are possible thanks to the luxury of economic power. The developing nations’ first priority on the most basic needs makes bigger-picture concerns harder to address.

“When China produces something for export, they use natural resources and release pollutants to the environment,” Liu said. “You leave the pollution behind. Thus, importing countries contribute to China ’s environmental problems.”

The developing nations offer lucrative markets, but markets that come with an environmental price. Diamond noted that Westerners must realize China ’s benefits come at a price.

“China increasingly affects the rest of the world, because China ’s huge population, combined with its high rate of economic growth, translates into large and growing resource consumption and impact on the world’s shared pool of finite resources,” Diamond said. “It’s impossible for the West to tell China that we in the West will maintain our high consumption rates but that China mustn’t try to catch up. Something will have to change.” Among the authors’ recommendations:

  • Aggressive support of education in China . An educated population better understands global and environmental impacts – the first step toward affecting change.
  • “Environmental education is important, but it’s not enough,” Liu said. “You have to enhance education in general. People who have more schooling have the ability to develop new technology and use technology to understand and solve some of these problems.”
  • Rigorous implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations already on the books in China, an effort that will require greater funding.
  • Use market tools to address environmental issues, such as eliminating subsidies for industries that severely harm the environment, like coal.
  • Address lifestyle issues, such as household size and even divorce, which have an environmental impact. Liu and Diamond even suggest examining the benefits of mandatory waiting period of divorce, saying divorce ultimately has negative environmental impacts.

It’s time, Liu says, to realize the other side of the world really is the back yard and good neighbors don’t just borrow, but also return favors.

“This is not just a recommendation for China but for the whole world,” Liu said. “We focus on China, but that doesn’t mean only China needs to do this.“

The research has been funded by a National Science Foundation Biocomplexity and the Environment grant, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation of China and the MSU Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station.

Jianguo | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.msu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>