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Telecoupling pulls pieces of sustainability puzzle together
Date:6/25/2013

ty in China used for food, vegetable oil and animal feed. The telecoupling framework uses five components (systems, agents, flows, causes, and effects) critical to assembling the whole picture.

Systems are where humans and nature interact. Explosive growth and increasing urbanity has sent the Chinese shopping elsewhere for soybeans. Brazil has stepped up to the plate to meet the demands and has suffered environmental consequences as delicate rainforests are converted to farmland. China, on the other hand, has been converting farmlands back to forests.

The telecoupling framework tracks how one change leads to another and can spill over into other countries. For example, the United States found itself losing market share in soybeans, leading to economic repercussions and environmental changes as farmers shifted gears.

Flows are the materials, information and energy that pass back and forth between systems. China and Brazil have trade agreements, financial transactions and the use of fuel and water to grow and transport the beans.

The telecoupling framework also factors in the actions of agents the individuals, decision-make groups, or even herds of animals -- whose actions have an impact, big and small, what they do in China can resonate in Brazil and visa versa -- or somewhere in between.

Then there are causes and effects supply, demand and the cultural tastes that drive demand are among many causes. Effects can be the impact of insecticides and fertilizers used to grow the beans in Brazil or displacement of farmers in China who no longer grow soybeans due to the lower price of soybeans from Brazil.

Besides soybean trade, telecouplings may emerge through other types of trade, and other distant interactions such as foreign investment, tourism, transnational land tenure transfer, knowledge dissemination, technology transfer, migration of humans and animals, water transfer, waste transfer, pollutant transfer,
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Contact: Sue Nichols
Nichols@msu.edu
517-432-0206
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

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