Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Humans trading short-term food for long-term environmental losses

25.07.2005


Your breakfast this morning came at a cost not only to your wallet. Your bowl of Cheerios and cup of coffee and all the other meals for the other 6 billion people in our world cost the Earth a bit of its water, a bit of its ecological diversity, contributed to its pollution and may one day cost us our livelihood.



In the July 22, 2005 issue of the journal Science, co-author Terry Chapin, professor of ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Institute of Arctic Biology (IAB), and colleagues point out that modern land-use practices may be trading short-term increases in food production for long-term losses in the environment’s ability to support human societies. Part of the solution, according to Chapin, is the students in UAF’s Regional Resilience and Adaptation Program (RAP).

Local land-use practices such as clearing tropical and boreal forests, practicing large-scale agriculture, expanding urban centers and intensifying farmland production are so pervasive their effects are now observed globally. Fertilizer use, which has increased 700% in the past 40 years, and human-caused atmospheric pollution now negatively affect water quality and coastal and freshwater ecosystems. Biodiversity is lost due to modification, fragmentation and loss of habitats, soil, and water, and exploitation of native species. Land-use practices play a role in changing the global carbon cycle, and possibly, the global climate.


The key to resilient and sustainable land use, according to the paper’s authors, is closer collaboration between scientists and practitioners – linking, for example, ecologists and land-use planners, climatologists and architects, and entomologists (insect scientists) and physicians – and the development of land-use strategies that recognize both short- and long-term needs.

Such collaboration and long-range planning is at the heart of UAF’s RAP. “We need manager and policy makers who understand the ecological, economic, political, and social connections and unintended consequences of land-use decisions,” said Chapin, RAP’s director. The program trains students to be scholars, policy-makers and resource managers able to address issues of regional and global sustainability.

“All of the changes in local land-use are driven by human activities to meet local needs or create economic profits, but these changes have global consequences,” Chapin said. “We need to be aware of the local and global consequences of land-use change so that the true costs are considered when land-use planning and development take place. It’s not to say there shouldn’t be any land-use change, but it must be in context.”

RAP graduate student Nancy Fresco’s work on carbon sequestration in boreal forests is an example of this new approach to land-use decisions.

“Crossing between academic fields and taking a global perspective on local issues can be daunting, because linked social and ecological systems are innately complex,” Fresco said. “But global land-use problems are too serious to be ignored. Here in Alaska, we can see some of these problems first-hand, and we have the resources to find workable solutions.”

“Alaska has many of the properties of a third-world economy,” Chapin said. “An extractive economy subject to changes in the world economy, tremendous amounts of natural resources, diversity of cultures – and we’ve got the money and the wealth to solve the problem if we know what to do,” he said.

Marie Gilbert | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://uaf.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
23.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>