Consistent with the “EKC” Hypothesis, which predicts that some economic phenomena will reach a turning point as a matter of course, He and his colleagues examined whether any of the impact activities might be headed that way. If so, that would perhaps provide evidence that the worst of human impacts from economic growth might be abating.
They found that while six of nine impacts for which they had national-scale data appeared to have such a trajectory, there was still not much relief in sight.
Excess fertilizer use appears to have just reached a turning point, for example, but others, such as mariculture, won’t reach one until a GDP level that is so distant, it’s unrealistic to think that it’s feasible.
“If mariculture is to reach its predicted turning point, this will need much more culturable coast areas than the country actually has,” He said.
And some turning points have only been reached by transferring the impact from one region to another, meaning the overall activity in the country is not declining, just shifting.
The authors conclude that coastal degradation is not likely to abate by letting ongoing economic trends continue.
“Stricter, systematic, strategic conservation measures are urgently needed to protect China’s coastal and marine ecosystems, and to sustain China’s progress in social, economic and ecological development,” He said.
In addition to He and Bertness, the paper’s other authors are John Bruno, Bo Li, Guoquan Chen, Tyler Coverdale, Andrew Altieri, Junhong Bai, Tao Sun, Steven Pennings, Jianguo Liu, Paul Ehrlich, and Baoshan Cui.
The National Key Basic Research Program of China (grant 2013CB430406), the China National Funds for Distinguished Young Scientists (51125035), National Science Foundation for Innovative Research Group (51121003), and the Biological Oceanography Program of the National Science Foundation (USA) funded the research.
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Source: Brown University.