A Michigan State University (MSU) scientist and colleagues feel that China and India must collaborate to retard global warming, deforestation, water shortages and other environmental issues.
"China and India are the two largest countries in terms of population," said Jianguo Liu, MSU University Distinguished Professor of fisheries and wildlife who holds the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability.
"Even while the rest of the world is in a recession, the economies of China and India are growing and the countries' consumption of raw materials is increasing. Cooperation between the two is vital to mitigating negative environmental impacts," he added.
In the report "China, India and the Environment," published in the March 19 issue of the journal Science, Liu and co-authors advocate using scientific collaboration as a bridge to help break down political barriers between the two nations - ultimately benefiting the larger global society.
All the authors have strong research programs in one or both of the countries.
"We all have a huge interest in a sustainable world and the way we're managing it now, it simply isn't sustainable," said Peter Raven, co-author and president of the Missouri Botanical Garden.
"The problems get worse every year; biodiversity loss and climate change have clear global significance.
Our thesis is the two countries share so much adjacent territory that the environmental benefits should be obvious and, informed by scientific analysis, should provide a bridge between them," he added.
According to Liu, water availability could be an increasingly challenging issue facing the two countries and one that will require careful cooperation.
Many rivers flow through both China and India. If one country builds too many dams on its side to generate hydroelectric power, it will likely cause water shortages downstream in the other country.
"Water is a huge issue. It's being discussed extensively. We need to make people aware of the benefits of cooperation," said Liu.
"It's more than just China and India that will be affected if these two countries don't work together. The environmental impacts will be felt around the world, including in the United States," he added.
"One thing we have learned from the recession is that without sustainability there cannot be unlimited growth," said Kamaljit Bawa, University of Massachusetts-Boston distinguished professor of biology and president of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment in Bangalor, India.
"The two countries are not facing recession and it is time for them to exercise environmental stewardship. Future economic growth is contingent upon this stewardship," he added. (ANI)