Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Telecoupling science shows China’s forest sustainability packs global impact

20.12.2013
As China increases its forests, a Michigan State University (MSU) sustainability scholar proposes a new way to answer the question: if a tree doesn’t fall in China, can you hear it elsewhere in the world?

In this week’s journal Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, MSU’s University Distinguished Professor Jianguo “Jack” Liu dissects the global impact of China’s struggle to preserve and expand its forests even as its cities and population balloon.

Because China’s supersized global role makes each domestic decision a world event, Liu shows how China’s efforts to sustain forests influences other countries, and in turn how those changes may rebound to China. He is the author of “Forest Sustainability in China and Implications for a Telecoupled World.”

“For a long time, many scientists have focused specifically on one place to understand environmental impact, but that no longer is enough,” said Liu, the director of MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability and the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability. “Economic development and environmental conservation in one place are increasingly having substantial influence elsewhere, and spill over into places we don’t consider.”

Deforestation that eases in China tends to reappear in the countries that sell them lumber and food to meet their ravenous appetite for housing and furniture as well as food. But Liu notes that that’s just the beginning. He deploys the telecoupling framework – a new multidisciplinary research tool that embraces the minutia of give and take. Telecoupling is socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances. It goes beyond the idea of connection, as telecoupling factors in actions and reactions over distances.

In the past three decades, China has succeeded in increasing its forest cover. Sweeping policies thatForest products import and export - China limit logging or encourage returning farmland to forest are credited with some of the success. Importing food, such as soybean and meat, and forest products like timber or wood furniture, also contributes. But that seems to have caused forests to decline in the countries selling the forest goods to China, as well as a spray of other impacts.

Importing food to China can allow more land to be returned to forest in China, yet when food demand from China becomes higher, farmers in other countries such as Brazil have more incentive to mow forests down or intensify agriculture by applying more fertilizers and pesticides.

Liu has introduces the telecoupling framework as an integrated way to understand how distance is shrinking and connections are strengthening between nature and humans.

Liu also shows there’s more to this than trade. He points out how growing foreign investment in China has led to more houses, factories and infrastructure, all of which carve into forests. Even getting smarter – and sharing knowledge and technology more freely – can benefit or harm forests. Spreading the message of environmental protection can be a forest’s friend, while spreading knowledge of technology can make powerful, efficient machinery available that harvests forests more efficiently.

And telecoupling science also allows scientists to consider “spillover” systems – the countries that are left out of the direct equations of trade between China and its partners in food and forest goods, but who produce the machinery to harvest and transport timber, or process timber, or even are home to routes for smugglers.

“The days of simply looking at sustainability at one place are over,” Liu said. “We need to understand how the world really works and acknowledge that the world isn’t as big and disconnected as we sometimes treat it. “

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA and Michigan State University AgBioResearch.

Contact:
Sue Nichols,
(517) 432-0206,
nichols@msu.edu

Sue Nichols | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.msu.edu
http://csis.msu.edu/news/telecoupling-science-shows-china%E2%80%99s-forest-sustainability-packs-global-impact

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>