NEWS: China faces severe water crisis

Brent Patterson
10 years ago
The Globe and Mail reports today that, "Last week, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued a rare 'special alert', warning that the ongoing drought that has hit the provinces of Shandong, Henan, Hebei, Jiangsu and Shanxi – which together account for nearly two-thirds of China’s wheat production – has already jeopardized crop yields and 'could become critical' if the dry spell stretches into spring. The state-run Xinhua newswire has referred to the drought in Shandong as the worst in two centuries." The article adds, "The drought that has parched the land in much of northern China was already months old when the artillery was called into action last week. With the country’s wheat crop – critical to bread prices the world over – under threat, hundreds of shells filled with silver iodide were fired at the sky. ...The assault on the clouds had the desired short-term effect, provoking the first snowfalls of Beijing’s winter after 108 days without precipitation. But while the light snow brought rare smiles to the faces of grain growers, the National Meteorological Centre has already acknowledged it wasn’t nearly enough to relieve the country’s parched breadbasket." Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has stated, "Northern China is in terrible crisis. China has decided to build a massive pipeline from the Tibetan Himalayas and take the snow melt that now feeds the rivers that feed five major rivers that provide water for all of Asia, and it is just going to take that water because 400 of the 600 cities in Northern China are in water crisis. They are talking about moving the capital away from Beijing because there are great big dustballs and tumbleweed going through the city. They are creating an area of desert the size of Rhode Island in China every single year; every year there is a new area that big from the displacement of water. They are just taking it from where we can get at it, to where we can't, as a species, get at it." The World Bank has forecast that if present trends are not reversed, by 2020 there will be 30 million environmental refugees in China due to water stress. It has also been noted that: More than half of China’s 660 cities suffer from water shortages, affecting 160 million people; 90 per cent of cities’ groundwater and 75 per cent of rivers and lakes are polluted; and as a result of widespread water pollution, 700 million people drink contaminated water every day. Leading Chinese environmental activist and journalist Ma Jun has warned that China is facing a water crisis that includes water shortages, water pollution and a deterioration in water quality. The Globe and Mail article is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/chinas-drought-has-global-implications/article1910465/.