Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Counting the cost of water

24.05.2006


Economic expansion in China is threatening the country’s scarce water resources, according to a new study by the University of Leeds. Uneven development of trade across the country means that water-intensive or polluting industries are expanding in areas where water is in shortest supply.



Dr Klaus Hubacek and Mr Dabo Guan from the University’s Sustainability Research Institute assessed how much water different industries consume or pollute. Using these figures, they compared the ‘virtual water flow’ between regions in China based on each region’s imports and exports and the water consumed during their production.

Dr Hubacek said, “You would expect drier regions to depend chiefly on industries that use less water and import goods that require a lot of water to produce. In fact our study found the opposite to be true.”


Water-scarce North China mainly exports water-intensive commodities, like irrigated agricultural products, processed foods, paper and textiles. Guangdong in South China, where water is abundant, exports comparatively water non-intensive commodities such as electrical equipment and commercial or social services.

The researchers believe this imbalance is partly due to the government’s economic policies. Dr Klaus Hubacek said, “Over the past thirty years Chinese economic policies have supported Guangdong more than other regions, leading to a boom in industries that use fewer natural resources in their production.”

Within China, water is so unevenly distributed that the North, which supports half the country’s population, holds just one fifth of its total water. In some parts, water is so limited that it is considered to be the most critical natural resource.

The problem in China’s dry North has been made worse as their water intensive industries also pollute their limited streams and rivers. The industries based in Guangdong in the South use and pollute comparatively little of its abundant water supplies. By importing products from the North, Guangdong avoids polluting its own watercourses and ensures the pollution takes place elsewhere.

Dr Hubacek said, “Environmental resources have been seen as cost-free in China and as such have not been considered an important factor in economic decision-making. However, for economic expansion to be sustainable, economic policies and development must take into account water consumption and availability. This is as true in China as it is elsewhere – including the UK.”

“Most of the goods we consume are produced in China and other developing countries and so we export a lot of our pollution problems to them – which is partly why the UK and other developed countries are so successful in improving their environmental records. Our work on virtual water flows is a first step towards making those trade links visible.”

Isobel Briggs | alfa
Further information:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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 the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>