Saturday, March 29, 2014

US plans to cut Methane emissions

The Obama administration on Friday announced a strategy to start slashing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas released by landfills, cattle, and leaks from oil and natural gas production.
The methane strategy is the latest step in a series of White House actions aimed at addressing climate change without legislation from Congress. Individually, most of the steps will not be enough to drastically reduce the United States’ contribution to global warming. But the Obama administration hopes that collectively they will build political support for more substantive domestic actions while signaling to other countries that the United States is serious about tackling global warming.
In a 2009 United Nations climate change accord, President Obama pledged that by 2020 the United States would lower its greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels. “This methane strategy is one component, one set of actions to get there,” Dan Utech, the president’s special assistant for energy and climate change, said on Friday in a phone call with reporters.

Environmental advocates have long urged the Obama administration to target methane emissions. Most of the planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution in the United States comes from carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas. Methane accounts for just 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution — but the gas is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on future global warming.

And methane emissions are projected to increase in the United States, as the nation enjoys a boom in oil and natural gas production, thanks to breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing technology. A study published in the journal Science last month found that methane is leaking from oil and natural gas drilling sites and pipelines at rates 50 percent higher than previously thought. As he works to tackle climate change, Mr. Obama has generally supported the natural gas production boom, since natural gas, when burned for electricity, produces just half the greenhouse gas pollution of coal-fired electricity.
Environmental groups like the Sierra Club have campaigned against the boom in natural gas production, warning that it could lead to dangerous levels of methane pollution, undercutting the climate benefits of gas. The oil and gas industry has resisted pushes to regulate methane leaks from production, saying it could slow that down.

A White House official said on Friday that this spring, the Environmental Protection Agency would assess several potentially significant sources of methane and other emissions from the oil and gas sector, and that by this fall the agency “will determine how best to pursue further methane reductions from these sources.” If the E.P.A. decides to develop additional regulations, it would complete them by the end of 2016 — just before Mr. Obama leaves office.

Among the steps the administration announced on Friday to address methane pollution:
■ The Interior Department will propose updated standards to reduce venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas production on public lands.
■ In April, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management will begin to gather public comment on the development of a program for the capture and sale of methane produced by coal mines on lands leased by the federal government.

■ In June, the Agriculture Department, the Energy Department and the E.P.A. will release a joint “biogas road map” aimed at accelerating adoption of methane digesters, machines that reduce methane emissions from cattle, in order to cut dairy-sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.
Advocates of climate action generally praised the plan. “Cutting methane emissions will be especially critical to climate protection as the U.S. develops its huge shale gas reserves, gaining the full greenhouse gas benefit from the switch away from coal,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former White House climate change aide under President Bill Clinton, now with the German Marshall Fund.
Howard J. Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for oil and gas companies, said he hoped the steps would not lead to new regulations on his industry. “We think regulation is not necessary at this time,” he said. “People are using a lot more natural gas in the country, and that’s reducing greenhouse gas.”

Since cattle flatulence and manure are a significant source of methane, farmers have long been worried that a federal methane control strategy could place a burden on them. But Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said that his group was pleased that, for now, the administration’s proposals to reduce methane from cattle were voluntary.
“All indications are that it’s voluntary,” he said, “but we do see increased potential for scrutiny for us down the line, which would cause concern.”

(A version of this article appears in print on March 29, 2014, on page A12 of the New York edition)

Air Pollution and Agriculture

Ammonia pollution from agricultural sources poses larger health costs than previously estimated, according to NASA-funded research.

Harvard University researchers Fabien Paulot and Daniel Jacob used computer models including a NASA model of chemical reactions in the atmosphere to better represent how ammonia interacts in the atmosphere to form harmful particulate matter. The improved simulation helped the scientists narrow in on the estimated health costs from air pollution associated with food produced for export – a growing sector of agriculture and a source of trade surplus.

"The 'cost' is an economic concept to measure how much people are willing to pay to avoid a risk," Paulot said. "This is used to quantify the cost for society but also to evaluate the benefits of mitigation."
The new research by Paulot and Jacob calculate the health cost associated with the ammonia emissions from agriculture exports to be $36 billion a year – equal to about half of the revenue generated by those same exports – or $100 per kilogram of ammonia. The study was published December 2013 in Environmental Science & Technology.

The new estimate is about double the current estimate by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which suggests a cost of $47 per kilogram of ammonia. The scientists say the new estimate is on the high end of the spectrum, which reflects the need for more research into characterizing the relationship between agricultural ammonia emissions and the formation of the harmful fine particulate matter – a relationship that's not as straightforward as previous estimates assumed.

"The effect of ammonia on fine particulate is complex, and we believe that the models previously used in the United States to price ammonia emissions have not captured this well," Paulot said.
The map shows increase in annual mean surface concentration of particulate matter resulting from ammonia emissions associated with food export. Populated states in the Northeast and Great Lakes region, where particulate matter formation is promoted by upwind ammonia sources, carry most of the cost.
Image Credit: 
NASA AQAST/Harvard University

Manure from livestock and fertilizer for crops release ammonia to the atmosphere. In the air, ammonia mixes with other emissions to form microscopic airborne particles, or particulates. The particulates that pose the greatest health risk are those that measure no more than 2.5 micrometers across, or about 1/30 the width of a human hair, which when inhaled can become lodged deep within the lungs. Long-term exposure has been linked to heart and lung diseases and even death. As such, the particles are on the list of six common air pollutants regulated by EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

An increase in ammonia, however, does not translate to an equal increase in particulates. The relationship depends on meteorology as well as the concentration of other precursors to particulate formation, such as sulfate and nitric acid.

To clarify the effect of ammonia on fine particulates, Paulot and Jacob first modeled the agricultural sources of ammonia emissions utilizing a relatively new ammonia emissions inventory. Next they used the NASA GEOS-Chem model of atmospheric composition to simulate the complex chemistry that converts agricultural emissions – in this case ammonia – into fine particulate matter.

This information was then combined with food export data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, averaged from 2000 to 2009. Results show that U.S. food exports account for 11 percent of the total U.S. emissions of ammonia.

"Our study suggests controls on ammonia emissions from agriculture could help reduce particulate matter and provide significant societal benefits," Paulot said.

The impact, however, is not equal everywhere. Areas downwind of large agricultural regions often set the stage for more mixing of ammonia with man-made emissions from combustion, such as from traffic and power plants. More mixing means the formation of more fine particulate matter. For this reason, the largest health costs are most often carried by the more populated states in the Northeast and Great Lakes region.

The research was sponsored by NASA as part of the Air Quality Applied Sciences Team (AQAST) program.

NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Passenger Pigeon: Should it be Brought Back?

It is often said that the passenger pigeon, once among the most abundant birds in North America, traveled in flocks so enormous that they darkened the skies for hours as they passed. The idea that the bird, which numbered in the billions, might disappear seemed as absurd as losing the cockroach. And yet hunting and habitat destruction pushed the animal to extinction. Martha, the last known passenger pigeon, died in 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Plans are afoot to bring back the bird by using a weird-science process called de-extinction. The work is being spearheaded by Ben J. Novak, a young biologist who is backed by some big names, including the Harvard geneticist George Church. The idea was recently promoted at a TEDx meeting in Washington and is being funded by Revive and Restore, a group dedicated to the de-extinction of recently lost species. (Other candidates include the woolly mammoth and the dodo.)

Novak’s idea takes a page from “Jurassic Park,” in which dinosaur DNA was filled in with corresponding fragments from living amphibians, birds and reptiles. Working with Church’s lab and Beth Shapiro, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Novak plans to use passenger pigeon DNA taken from museum specimens and fill in the blanks with fragments from the band-tailed pigeon. This reconstituted genome would be inserted into a band-tailed pigeon stem cell, which would transform into a germ cell, the precursor of egg and sperm. The scientists would inject these germ cells into developing band-tailed pigeons. As those birds mate, their eventual offspring would express the passenger pigeon genes, coming as close to being passenger pigeons as the available genetic material allows.

The process is not the same as cloning. Novak’s approach would use a mishmash of genes recovered from different passenger pigeons, resulting in birds as unique as any from the original flocks. Most pigeons mature and reproduce quickly enough that the de-extinction process could be completed in less than a year. Producing a flock large enough to release into the wild would take at least another decade.
Novak says he is confident the procedure will work. “Essentially, the genomes of the band-tailed pigeon and the passenger pigeon, I think, will prove to be similar enough to easily convert one to the other,” he said. In fact, he says, “making the passenger pigeon genome right now will be easier than making the first living passenger pigeon hatch from an egg.”

Experts say there is little question that re-creating the pigeon is technically possible. Indeed, the genome of the woolly mammoth has largely been sequenced using elephant DNA as a scaffolding. Complete, working genomes of dogs, sheep, horses, cows and other species have been artificially inserted into egg cells to produce living organisms.

But the project still faces many challenges, among them the contamination of much of the DNA specimen.

The hundreds of passenger pigeons in museum collections have been exposed to heat and oxygen. Specialized equipment would be used to identify the surviving fragments of DNA and reassemble them into working genes. It’s a painstaking process that could take years.

But the larger problem, say some scientists, is that even if the passenger pigeon is re-created, it’s unlikely to be viable as a species in today’s ecosystem. Novak’s plan is to breed the first new generations of the bird in captivity. But eventually he hopes to release the animal into the wild.
Such a proposition, some experts say, poses a number of fundamental problems: There is some question as to whether today’s forests can support a restored passenger pigeon population, and its nesting behaviors make the bird particularly susceptible to dying out again.

“Much of their breeding and wintering habitat is gone,” says Scott C. Yaich of the conservation group Ducks Unlimited, and the animal’s primary breeding-season food — beech mast, the nuts of a beech tree — is limited.
Altered landscape
The birds “simply couldn’t be restored to a landscape that is so radically altered from the one to which they were uniquely adapted,” says Yaich, director of conservation for Ducks Unlimited.
But Mark Twery, a research forester at the U.S. Forest Service, says that though beech bark disease has reduced beechnut production, “the overall quantity of forested habitat is likely to be ample to support a large enough number of pigeons for a viable population, even should people be able to restore the species.”

Other experts say that given the nesting behavior of the passenger pigeon, releasing a handful of birds into the wild would be a losing proposition.

The mainstream view of passenger pigeon ecology is that they used a reproductive strategy called predator satiation. The recent cicada invasion is one example of this strategy. Each cicada is individually easy to catch in its slow, bumbling flight. But there are so many millions of cicadas in a spot at one time that they are able to finish mating and laying eggs before predators have had time to eat all of them. If only a few thousand cicadas emerged at once, then most of them would probably be eaten before they were able to reproduce. In this way, the cicada’s survival depends on showing up in hordes.

Flimsy nests
Passenger pigeons succeeded through a similar sort of mob rule. Individually, their behavior was borderline reckless. They built flimsy nests, often dangerously low to the ground. The nests were built so hastily that when bad weather would slow down construction, a female would sometimes be forced to lay her eggs on the ground. When the young were ready to leave the nest — after only 14 days of development — they would spend their first few days on the ground, vulnerable to any hungry predator.
Passenger pigeons could get away with such behavior because of their incredible numbers. When a flock arrived at a nesting area, predators could gorge themselves for weeks. Each pair of nesting pigeons would produce two eggs, at least one of which usually ended up on the ground. But even with the constant work of foxes, bears, possums, raccoons, hawks, eagles, snakes and other meat-eaters, enough of the young pigeons survived to fly away.

This system works great with a flock of 5 million birds. But according to Kirk Mantay, a biologist specializing in habitat restoration, if only a few thousand pigeons show up, the whole system falls apart.

“If you put 5,000 out there, even with good habitat, they could all still be gone in a few decades unless you could exclude the predators somehow and make sure that they nested right where you wanted them to go. You just couldn’t make enough birds for it to work.”
A handful of nests and fledglings might escape the notice of predators, but as soon as the colony grew to a few dozen nests, the noise and scent would bring those predators in to feast on easy meals. You would need to skip ahead to millions of birds for the predator satiation strategy to properly work.
Still, “I believe the passenger pigeon will survive because we have people committed to its survival,” Novak says, citing the reintroducton of the condor into the wild in California. In that case, the birds, on the verge of extinction, were bred in captivity, then gradually released beginning in the 1990s; there are now about 200 living in the wild.

Would a commitment to its survival be enough to sustain the passenger pigeon? A few specimens living in an aviary would be a historic accomplishment. But an effort to put the passenger pigeon back into the wild would be challenging at best.

“Habitat restoration is hard to get right for species like turkey and quail that we know about,” says Mantay. “How long is that going to take with something we can’t study in the wild first?”
There may be other species that could be resurrected, animals that can survive in smaller numbers with less habitat. The Carolina parakeet might have a chance, with federal protection. The woolly mammoth could do very well in a herd of a few dozen within a large park, living at least as wild as bison in Yellowstone. As for the passenger pigeon, science may permit us to mourn it all over again.

Landers is the author of “The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Deer for Food” and “Eating Aliens.”

© The Washington Post Company

Saturday, March 08, 2014

GMO Salmon will not be labeled

Stores should be free either to carry the new GMO salmon or not once it is approved, if it is approved. I have a feeling though that many of these chains have decided not to carry the GMO salmon because the FDA would not permit them to label the Ge salmon in order to differentiate it from the nonge variety. What is the logic that makes the FDA take this position is baffling. It is as if they are saying that the consumer has no right to know what he/she is buying when in fact perfect knowledge is a corner stone of our economic system.


The two largest grocery stores in the United States, Kroger and Safeway, have promised to not sell GMO salmon. Over 9,000 stores nationwide have now committed to being free of the controversial fish.

Kroger, the US's leading grocery chain with 2,424 stores, informed Friends of the Earth of its decision in an email from Keith Dailey, director of media relations at Kroger.
"Should genetically engineered salmon be approved, Kroger has no intention of sourcing it", Dailey wrote.

Safeway, the number two conventional grocer with 1,406 stores, confirmed their position in an email to Friends of the Earth last week and said they plan to post their statement online:
"Should GE salmon come to market, we are not considering nor do we have any plans to carry GE salmon. The seafood products we offer will continue to be selected consistent with our Responsible Seafood Purchasing Policy, Responsible Sourcing Commitment and our partnership with FishWise."

Campaigners welcome the move
Dana Perls, Food and technology policy campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said: "By making commitments to not sell genetically engineered salmon, Kroger and Safeway have joined the large number of grocery chains, from Trader Joe's to Target, that have wisely chosen to listen to the majority of consumers who do not want to eat genetically engineered fish"

"Now Costco, Walmart, Albertsons and other retailers need to catch up and provide their customers with what they want: natural, sustainable seafood that isn't genetically engineered in a lab."

Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety, said: "Genetically engineered salmon are bad for the consumer, bad for the environment, and bad for our native salmon. We call on all fish retailers to reject this dangerous product that consumers don't want."

The total number of companies committed to not sell genetically engineered salmon now stands at more than 60 retailers, including Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Aldi, H-E-B, Meijer, Hy-Vee, Marsh, Giant Eagle, and now Safeway and Kroger, representing more than 9,000 grocery stores across the country.

FDA: GMO fish, animals may not be labeled
Nearly 2 million people have written to the FDA opposing the approval of genetically the engineered salmon, in response to Aqua Bounty's revised draft environmental assessment in 2013. Despite this outcry, the FDA is still considering approving GE salmon.

It has also said it will probably not be labeled, so consumers will have no way of knowing if the fish they are feeding their families is genetically engineered.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

China's Looming Water Crisis

Joshua Bateman
25th February 2014

One unintended consequence of China's spectacular economic growth is a growing water shortage, reports Joshua Bateman. As rivers run dry, aquifers sink, climate harshens and pollution spreads, he asks: can China solve its water crisis?

As more water infrastructure projects are built, hundreds of thousands citizens must relocate every year to accommodate the construction.
In a report by the Chinese News Service, Jiao Yong, Vice Minister of Water Resources, said, "China has more than 400 cities short of water, some 110 of which are facing serious scarcity."
A study by the China's Ministry of Water Resources found that approximately 55% of China's 50,000 rivers that existed in the 1990s have ... disappeared.
According to Jiang Liping, senior irrigation specialist at the World Bank in Beijing, China is over-exploiting its groundwater by 22 billion cubic meters a year - yet per capita water consumption is less than one third of the global average.
"China faces a severe water scarcity issue in water resources right now and it's getting more serious because of rampant economic growth ... Right now, the economy takes too much water from the environment so the ecological environment has been degraded."
The Issue
According to a 2012 joint UNICEF and WHO study, 593 million Chinese have gained access to improved sanitation since 1990. However, even with the increased access to cleaner water, China still faces a significant supply deficit.
As more people migrate to cities and join the middle class, their water consumption increases. With urbanization, the use of toilets, showers, and washing machines increases as does the consumption of nondurable goods such as meat, alcohol, clothes and electronics, all of which require water for production.
The Water Footprint Network reports that Chinese annual per capita water consumption is 1,071 m3. Data from the Ministry of Water Resources show that in 2008, agriculture accounted for 62% of demand, industry for 24%, domestic for 12%, and replenishment for 2%.
However, industry and domestic will drive future demand. According to McKinsey data, in 2030 agriculture demand will account for 51%, industry 32%, and 16% will go towards municipal and domestic uses.
China's water efficiency is another problem. Industry in China continues to expand and compared to other countries, is highly inefficient. Liping said, "water use efficiency and water productivity in both industry and agriculture are very low."
According to Andreas Fruschki, Portfolio Manager of the $268 million Allianz Global Water Mutual Fund, "most emerging markets continue to rely on bottled water in plastic or tap water which is not potable and has to be boiled before consumption, which is expensive and inefficient."
A catalogue of problems
Another challenge China faces is logistics. More than 60% of China's water is in the southern part of the country, but most of the usage is in the north and coastlines.
As Debra Tan, Head of China Water Risk, a Hong Kong-based non-profit explains, "45% of China's GDP is derived from water-scarce provinces. It is not easy to grow your economy with limited water and geographical issues beyond your control."
Beijing and other northern cities get most of their water from underground aquifers. Over the last five decades, China has had to drill increasingly deeper to gain access to water.
According to research from author Lester Brown, key aquifers are declining by as much as 3 metres / 10 feet per year. This increases drilling expenses and energy usage and has also lead to an increase in arsenic poisoning.
An August, 2013 study published in the journal Science, found that as many as 20 million people in China may be affected by arsenic-contaminated groundwater. Testing for contaminated wells, however, is resource- and time-intensive given China's geographic size.
A study by Shourong Wang and Zuqiang Zhang concluded that climate change is compounding the problem. The authors found that China's average temperature rose by 1.1°C from 1908 to 2007. They expect that from 2000, the annual mean air temperature in China will rise by 1.3 to 2.1°C by 2020 and 2.3 to 3.3°C by 2050.
According to China Daily, Chen Lei, Minister of Water Resources, said, "global climate change could further exacerbate existing problems over water security, water supply and farming irrigation."
Another problem is that China's primary energy source is coal. Coal production is a water-intensive process and also has other ecological side effects, which further pollute China's water supply.
Ramifications for China
The need for an adequate supply of clean water goes beyond just a need for drinking water. Tan said, "China is a big producer of agriculture goods and food security is of paramount importance to China as is energy security."
In many rural areas, untreated human excrement is commonly applied as fertilizer. This further pollutes China's water supply and can carry diseases. Due to China's impaired water quality, many people suffer from poor hygiene and dental issues. Other health issues in China linked to poor water quality include higher cancer rates, poor immune systems, and lower fertility rates.
Another issue is that as more water infrastructure projects are built, hundreds of thousands citizens must relocate every year to accommodate the construction.
With insufficient water supplies, economic growth and innovation in China will be hindered. Via email, Fruschki stated, "many industries rely on water supply - mining, power plants, food and dairy, semiconductor production, solar panel production - and if there isn't enough water, growth has to slow down."
On the other hand, the existing situation does create economic opportunities. By 2015, China plans to invest up to $735 billion into a new, strategic industry with the goal of creating new, greener energy solutions.
A portion of this capital will be allocated to decontaminate water ways and for new water-related technologies.
Global implications
China's water shortage has global implications. As more water projects are built in China and water is diverted from the south to the north, the water supplies of nearby countries such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India, Thailand and Bangladesh will be affected.
Rivers which could be impacted include the Indus, Brahmaputra, Ganges, Mekong, Irrawaddy, Nu, and the Lancang.
The lack of water will also impact global commodity prices. Without enough water, the production of all raw materials will be materially impacted.
Also, without sufficient water, remaining Chinese farmers will have to transition to more drought-resistant crops. China's lack of water has already made the country go from a net exporter to net importer of grains because they are water-intensive crops.
As a multitude of rivers and lakes recede or evaporate every year, there is the increased risk of extinction of certain animal species, such as the Chinese alligator, as their habitats are negatively altered.
Addressing the Issue
Liping said, "to combat water scarcity, we need to have different strategies. We need to increase the value of productivity per unit or drop of water in physical water scarcity areas and increase water use efficiency in economic water scarcity areas for irrigated agriculture using new technologies."
For example, "use better seeds and have synergies between agriculture and water irrigation scheduling so water productivity can increase."
"A lot of things can be done on the technology side in order to facilitate the change or conversion from a resource consumption manner to a resource efficient manner. This requires integrating water resource and environmental management."
Fruschki agrees. "Solutions exist. Canals can be built and water redirected or stored, desalination plants can provide additional supply on the coast lines. Also, demand can be reduced by stopping wastage and leakage and quality improved by treating waste before discharging in rivers."
According to Reuters, China's current five year plan calls for $304 billion to be invested in various infrastructure projects including dams and irrigation systems.
One example is the South-North Water transfer. According to Xinhua, the official press agency of the People's Republic of China, this project is forecasted to cost $82 billion and will annually divert approximately 45 billion cubic meters of water from the south to the north.
And China continues to invest in dams such as the Three Gorges Dam, which was completed in 2012 and can produce 22.5 GW of power. Construction on the Xingjiaba and the Xiluodu dams is expected to be finished by 2015 and combined, they will produce approximately 20 GW of power.
Private sector involvement
Over the last few years, the Government and private companies have also increased their investments in desalination technologies. According to the 2013 China Greentech Report, which is produced by The China Greentech Initiative,
"From 1980-2010, the number of sewage treatment plants in China grew from 37 to 3,000; China plans to construct an additional 2,000 to 3,000 plants nationwide between 2011 and 2015 to realize urban water treatment rates of 85% and a national recycling rate of 15%."
Another solution is to move to a more market-driven water pricing structure. Via tariffs and other fees, the cost of water has increased over time, but is still relatively cheap compared to other markets. An increase in the price of water would also encourage investment from private industry, which would reduce the need for government investment.
China has already seen interest from global companies. Siemens, General Electric, Veolia, and Dow are some of the companies investing in China.
For certain provinces, the government recently introduced water quotas, which must be met by 2015. And various provinces and counties have reached agreements to trade their water rights for financial consideration to other provinces, which are short of water.
Improving efficiency
On the demand side, in the Wilson Center's China Environment Series 12 Report, researchers found that if best practices - fixing leaks, improving cleaning, reusing water and condensate, recovering heat, improving insulate - were implemented, huge gains cold be realised.
China's textile industry "can save approximately 25 percent of the water and 30 percent of the energy used in a typical cotton fabric dyeing mill in China - all with initiatives that recoup costs in less than eight months."
Tan said, "it's such a multifaceted problem. You really need to look at a number of solutions - not just one." She talked about the need for recycling rain water, desalination, dams and bio-tech (in order to improve agriculture yields). She also discussed the concept of 'trading for water' by importing water-intensive goods.
For example, in Africa and South America, China has been acquiring land and partnering with agriculture companies, which will increase its food supply while reducing its water demand domestically.
The Future
With the different backgrounds and views of the various stakeholders - agriculturalists, environmentalists, government, citizens, foreign countries - this is a complex situation without an easy solution.
But China is moving in the right direction to address this issue, says Liping: "The Chinese government already recognized the need to change the production manner to resource efficient.
"The government recognizes this is a real problem and is very important. They will allocate more water for environment and can't use too much water for economic activity. The approach is to provide a balanced plan between economic production and environmental protection."
Talking about improving the prospects of the situation, Tan said, "there's a long way to go, but I think the journey has started. If anybody will be able to do it, it will be China." But in truth, time alone will tell. (The Ecologist)