Carrying capacity is an important parameter to measure region sustainable development. This article briefly discriminated the relevant concepts of resource and environment carrying capacity, region carrying capacity and ecological carrying capacity, and also reviewed the process of carrying capacity research development at home and abroad. Moreover, the paper discussed the shortcomings and problems and finally suggested several key issues of the research in future. It found that the studies of mountain area resource and environment carrying capacity were very insufficient, and the shortages in the correlative studies mainly displayed as: the theoretical system of carrying capacity had not been constructed completely; the lack of effective methods impeded the development of theory; most of researches focused on the static analysis but rarely engaged in dynamic forecast; the studies on mountain area resource and environment carrying capacity applied mechanically the research pattern of the plain area, which did not correspond to the mountain area's reality. Aiming at the above disadvantages, the author pointed out that perfecting the theory system frame of resource and environment carrying capacity, exploring the quantitative research methods of resource and environment carrying capacity in depth, and paying great attention to the mountain area resource and environment carrying capacity's characteristic of a nation, the influence of minority nationalities culture on resource and environment carrying capacity and the mountain area resource and environment carrying capacity's characteristic of spatial differentiation were five important issues for further study.
This paper discusses the rural households in regional development of rural area from the perspective of reductionism, suggesting the specialties of rural households in China as the unique objective of geographical research. Following this a research framework of geography of rural households has been formulated. This includes location of the rural household, spatial structure of households economic activities and their relations with geographical environment. The original location of a rural household relied heavily on natural environment and especially agricultural resources endorsement. Their relocations aim to achieve higher spatial utilization and to overcome the constraint of physical environment. Due to high population density and limited arable land, the villages are concentrated in central China, so as to form a close circular land use pattern. Although the pattern follows Tunen's theory, the mechanisms are quite different. Rural manufacturing industry has been spread in rural area and targets of migrant working are heavily affected by job opportunities and income levels rather than by spatial distances. Capital input, economic structure and geographical factors affect the income of rural households differently in different levels of development. Furthermore, the impact of capital and structure varies in coordination with their types of geographical factors. In rural development, entrepreneurship of rural households is fundamental for formation and growth of specialized villages, while the villages' resource endorsement, location, economic development history and tradition determine the direction of specialized villages. The relevant research has demonstrated the theoretical significance of geographical research of rural households, and also provides important reference for raising rural household self-developing ability, improving rural settlement and realizing rural sustainable development. Compared to geography of enterprises, geography of rural households shows differences in many aspects. The initial location of an enterprise is mainly determined by economic factors, while an initial location of a rural household is mainly determined by living conditions. The growth of an enterprise results in spatial expansion and division of organizational hierarchy, while the spatial division of a rural household is a temperate behavior, and the transregional structure exists only among the kinship-linked households. Spatial expansion of an enterprise follows contagious, hierarchy and relational channels, while a rural household is not affected by physical distance in migrant working situations. This specialty further enhances the study on geography of rural households in China.
Ecosystem research has experienced important progress since the beginning of the 21st century. A series of hot scientific themes have aroused much attention of the academic realm such as biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, ecosystem management, ecological risks and ecological security, the ecological responses and effects of global change. The general trend of contemporary ecological research is multidimensional and can be summarized as deepening the scientific understanding on ecological mechanisms, ecosystem monitoring and modeling across spatiotemporal scales, integrative ecosystem assessment and management with consideration of both socioeconomic and biophysical factors. The socioeconomic development in China is faced with serious challenges for the limited natural resource reserve and disturbing environmental problems. In response to these challenges, large scale ecological conservation and restoration projects have already been implemented across the country, for which many scientific questions in ecosystem research are urgently needed for resolution. This paper proposed some priority areas and important directions for ecosystem science in China based on the integrative analysis of the trends and frontiers of international level ecological research and the practical needs for the relationship between environmental and development in China.
There are a variety of uncertainties of understanding on climate change, although much important progress has been achieved so far. In this paper, some hot issues related with disagreements are explored on both sides, which could be significant to climate change research. These issues can be listed as follows: 1) the past climate change-whether the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age existed in the past 2000 years or not, whether the global mean temperature of the 20th century was the highest in the latest 1000 years or not, and whether the global warming trend in the last decade has disappeared or not; 2) greenhouse effects-different viewpoints on its mechanism, greenhouse effects on climate change, and effects of water vapor in the atmosphere on global warming. 3) simulation of climate system-differences of the global mean temperature by observed and simulated climate models as well as their shortcomings. 4) 2℃ threshold of the global warming-the physical significance of 2℃ threshold for the earth, and disputation on itself. Finally, it is proposed that five topics on climate change research need to be studied further in the near future.
In response to contemporary global environmental change and its impact on human society, and promoted by the development of other disciplines, physical geography has taken on a new look. Understanding the new situation of physical geography helps to grasp the academic front. Contemporary physical geography not only researches various elements of the natural environment, their interactions and composition, and their spatial process and regional differentiation, but also studies variety of processes and their various relationships with the passage of time, infers results at a certain temporal or spatial scale to other scales, and applies the research results to solve practical resources and environmental management issues. The new fields of international physical geography can be summed up as physical geographical system, physical geographical process, landscape and environmental change, human activity and environmental change, global physical geography and cultural physical geography. Modern physical geography in China grows from the traditional Chinese geography and is impacted by geographical disciplines of Europe-America and Russia. Generally speaking, physical geography in China has moved from empirical science into experimental science, from the macro structure research to the research of macro pattern combining micro process and mechanism, from the research of elements and process separation to integrated studies. It has achieved good progress in comprehensive study of physical geography, the natural process of surface studies, urban and regional development research, and basic research application-oriented to social reality. Physical geography in China has outstanding performance in meeting the national and social need, but the independent contribution and self-innovation inadequate in academic thinking, theory and methods. This situation is not proportionate with the unique physical geographical advantages of China, and not proportionate with the vast research team of physical geography in China. Every major breakthrough in the development course of science and technology began with innovations in new ideas, new theories, new methods and their applications. Lack of innovation awareness and systematic research of scientific ideas and methods has been not only severely restricting the innovation capability of physical geography in China, but also limiting the ability of solving practical problems. In the future, Chinese physical geography will have a trend towards more comprehensive and more global perspectives, as well as a deeper discovering of key processes and their dynamics and mechanism, more application of high-technology, and closer serving for regional sustainable development. One of the important tasks is to strengthen the research and innovation of scientific thinking, scientific methods and scientific tools.