News Service


Joel Snow, International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics, (515) 294-0341
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Global sustainable development, the economic development of nations that does not cause substantial pollution or harm to the environment, is widely recognized as a crucial, long-term objective that must be met for safe economic growth, according to a panel of researchers. But the pathways toward sustainable development are many and there is yet no clear consensus on how best to proceed, said the panel of researchers at the American Association for Advancement of Science annual meeting today (Jan. 25) in Anaheim, Calif.

The symposium, "Sustainable Development in China: Near Term Approaches," will address some of the challenges and goals of sustainable development in China.

"China, with the largest population of any country and an economy that is growing 8- to 10-per cent per year, will be a test case for sustainable development," said Joel Snow, executive associate director of the International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics at Iowa State University.

Snow organized the symposium and will be a speaker for it as well.

"China's economy has grown at an average rate of 9 per cent per year for the past 20 years," Snow said. "This extraordinary and continuing growth has been accompanied by severe environmental stresses, including widespread air and water pollution, depletion of scarce water and land resources for agriculture, and rapid increases in greenhouse gas emissions.

"China has adopted more rigorous environmental policies and has embraced the general principles of sustainable development," Snow said. "The course China charts through this period of economic development and responsible land and air stewardship could be a blueprint for how other developing nations will foster growth and change in the new millennium."

Speakers participating in the symposium are:

Milton Russell, a senior fellow at the Joint Institute for Energy and the Environment, Knoxville, Tenn., will provide an analysis of how China can meet its environmental goals by using pollution taxes as an instrument to bring development and environmental quality into congruence.

David Wendt, assistant to the president at Idaho State University, Pocatello, and formerly with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C., will talk about meeting the rapidly growing energy needs of Chongquing, an autonomous city in China. In order to meet its development goals, Chongquing will need about 2,000 MW of electric power annually for the next 20 years, more than tripling its present energy supply. The rapid industrialization connected with this much energy consumption must be addressed without worsening the already severe pollution in the region and the resettlement of about 1.2 million people from the Three Gorges area.

Ya Hui Zhuang, a distinguished research fellow and former director of the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, will speak on sustainable development and environmentally sound carbon cycling. Zhuang researches on the removal of sulfur and particulate pollution from the burning of coal and biomass, and on the carbon dioxide contributions to global climate change. He is the principal reviewer of the Chinese Air Pollution Program, and directs the Air Pollution Program Management Office of the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges.

Gregory Charmichael, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, will describe the predictive capabilities of computer atmospheric models in providing a "first cut" at the identification of present and future air pollution problems and the use of models in collaboration with Chinese scientists and policy makers.

Snow will speak about sustainable development in Henan province, the most populated province in China and one that faces serious environmental problems. Snow will describe a collaborative effort between the International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics (IITAP), of which Snow belongs, and several Chinese science and technology entities. Snow will detail progress being made including work on alternative energy systems, weather and climate modeling, water resource and municipal waste strategies, sustainable agriculture and environmental education. IITAP is collaboration between Iowa State University and the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

"Because China is the leading developing nation, the deal it strikes with the industrialized world will be seen as a bellwether for what other developing nations should do," Snow said.

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