Seventy-one scholars from 13 countries attended the 27th International Science Conference

International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS XXVII) gathers solutions to environmental problems

Washington District of Columbia, UNITED STATES


Washington, DC, April 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

        International Science Conference: Innovations to Ease Environmental Stressors

 

The Twenty-Seventh International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS XXVII)

gathers solutions to environmental problems

 

Easing global problems like deforestation, desertification and the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria will have profound benefits for humanity, speakers told a recent two-day virtual science conference.

Seventy-one scholars from 13 countries attended ICUS XXVII, which was held online on April 23-24, 2021 EDT. The conference series, sponsored by the Hyo Jeong International Foundation for the Unity of the Sciences (HJIFUS), focuses on finding the most promising scientific solutions to environmental problems on a global level, said HJIFUS President, Dr. Douglas Joo.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the preservation of our environment is the most pressing and weightiest issue humanity faces today,” said Dr. Sun Jin Moon in the Founder’s Address, quoting her mother, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, co-founder of ICUS with her late husband, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon.

“As far back as 1957, my father spoke about the urgent need to resolve environmental challenges, saying that, ‘People are meant to harmonize with nature,’” said Dr. Sun Jin Moon.

She brought up points from the environmental pledge signed by ICUS participants last year and reiterated that we need to develop an attitude and heart of love toward nature and all people, guided by the ideals of interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values to heal the suffering of humanity and the environment.

The conference structure consisted of three main academic sessions each with their own open discussion on topics presented by the speakers and commentators.

Session 1 examined ways in which denuded forest land can be recovered and desert lands can be transformed back into fertile lands.

The Republic of Korea’s massive, long-term reforestation efforts, for instance, have made it an international model for this vital environmental task. Despite the devastation of the Korean War, and widespread use of wood for home fires, Korea is now “nearly...fully reforested,” with forests occupying 63% of the total land area by the end of 2020, said Prof. Jong-Choon Woo of Kangwon National University in Korea.

Korea’s efforts to “green up” its barren landscapes offer a helpful framework for other countries to consider in their own reforestation efforts, said Dr. Han-Sup Han, professor of forestry at North Arizona University. New tasks include ensuring sustainable forest management and healthy ecosystems, he said.

Another urgent environmental task is returning desert lands to a fertile state, a challenge being addressed in several parts of India.

Integrating farming production, water and soil conservation, and land management (or “arable crops + trees + grasses + livestock”) is offering hope to reclaim these lands, said Dr. O.P. Yadav, director of the ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India.

In Session 2, the first presentation was given by Prof. Yoshiaki Katsuda of Kansai University of Social Welfare in Japan and overviewed the role of environmental health in recent viral outbreaks and the COVID-19 pandemic and a range of solutions to combat these and new outbreaks.

The interconnectivity of the world’s populations means communication and rapid responses are essential, said Prof. Christian Happi, who teaches at the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases at Redeemer's University in Nigeria. He talked about the progress that has been made to surveil pathogen genomics to prevent or delay the spread of COVID-19 in African countries.

Another topic of Session 2, addressed by Prof. Michael Stenstrom of the University of California, Los Angeles, was the alarming rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a problem linked to overuse in raising farm animals and discarding unused medications into wastewater systems.

“Ordinary people in the world have to quit the overuse and the misuse of antibiotics, even if treatment processes at plants are safe and free from care,” said Prof. Hirokazu Tamamura of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, who gave a commentary on Prof. Stenstrom’s presentation.

Session 3 addressed “negative emission technologies” (NETs) or ones that remove CO2 from the atmosphere, as well as new ways to store energy for wider use in electric vehicles.

Global socioeconomic development will greatly affect the timing and reach of NETs and other new technologies, but “the longer we wait, the greater our reliance on future negative emissions and their associated tradeoffs,” said Prof. Andrew Clarens, director of the Virginia Environmentally Sustainable Technologies Laboratory at the University of Virginia. 

Electric vehicles (EVs) are expected to be widely used in the near future, but even state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries cannot power EVs for long-distance driving, said Prof. Yang-Kook Sun of the Department of Energy Engineering at Hanyang University in Seoul. New strategies are already being examined to boost the power of these batteries while keeping costs down, he said. Perhaps a new formulation, which uses graphite-silicon composite, is needed, responded Dr. Byung-Gwan Lee, research director of Eurocell Inc., in South Korea. 

At the conference closing, Dr. Joo announced that HJIFUS launched an environmental periodical, The Earth & I, on April 22, Earth Day, which can be freely viewed at theearthandi.org. Besides covering environmental news and issues, The Earth & I will offer policy proposals and serve as a resource for educators and the general public.

Media Contact: Ryu-Sung Weinmann, Associate Administrative Director, HJIFUS at rpw.usa@hjifus.org

 

 

 

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