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Regional Scale Levels


Regional Scale Levels

A “region” may be defined, for example, by a national border, a trans-border trade zone, or a biologically defined BIOME [glossary]. Data are most often available on a national basis, unless there is an international body regulating the area, such as the Joint Commission, a Canadian-US body managing the environmental quality of the Great Lakes.


As with local environmental issues, regional issues may be troublesome but not necessarily be sustainable scale problems.  The latter occur under the same conditions that local and global sustainable scale problems occur: either non-renewable resources are being used; and/or renewable resources or sinks are being used faster than they can be renewed (see Understanding Scale). Emissions causing acid rain cross borders, expanding local scale problems to other regions.


Regional Examples

The Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion caused both local and regional sustainable scale problems by spreading nuclear contamination over a large geographic area determined by wind patterns.  Another example of a regional scale problem is the demise of the Aral Sea, from which water was used to irrigate cotton crops for export.  The extraction of the water exceeded its replenishment rate, leading to the shrinking of the area covered by the sea, destroying fisheries and altering the ecosystems connected to the sea. [image]


As with local level sustainable scale problems, exceeding scale at a regional level may be dealt with by importing bioproductive capacity from other regions.  A good example of this is the importation of wheat by nations such as China.  It has been argued that this is equivalent to importing water1.  China does not have the water to grow enough of its own wheat; by importing wheat it is effectively making up for having exceeded the sustainable scale of water use within its own territories.


1. Brown, L.  XXX

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