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Dire Warnings From First Chinese Climate Change Report
Water supplies in China are under threat from the twin problems of climate change and pollution. Photo courtesy AFP.
Water supplies in China are under threat from the twin problems of climate change and pollution. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Peter Harmsen
Beijing (AFP) Dec 27, 2006
Temperatures in China will rise significantly in coming decades and water shortages will worsen, state media said Wednesday, citing the government's first national assessment of global climate change. "Greenhouse gases released due to human activity are leading to ever more serious problems in terms of climate change," the Ministry of Science and Technology said in a statement.

"Global climate change has an impact on the nation's ability to develop further," said the ministry, one of 12 government departments that prepared the report.

In just over a decade, global warming will start to be felt in the world's most populous country, and it will get warmer yet over the next two or three generations.

Compared with 2000, the average temperatures will increase by between 1.3 and 2.1 degrees Celsius by 2020, the China News Service reported, citing the assessment.

By the middle of the century, the annual average temperature in China will rise by as much as 3.3 degrees Celsius (more than five degrees fahrenheit), and by 2100 it could soar by as much as six degrees Celsius, according to the news service.

"We're in a period of rapid economic growth, and energy consumption will increase as a result," Liu Hongbin, a Beijing-based expert at the National Climate Center, told AFP.

"As a result, China will continue to emit a rather large amount of greenhouse gases."

The report predicted that precipitation will also increase drastically in the coming decades, rising up to 17 percent by the turn of the next century, according to the news service.

However, this will bring little or no relief to China's frequently drought-stricken farmers, the report noted.

Although parched north China is expected to have more rain, water shortages will increase because of faster evaporation caused by higher temperatures.

Drought, heat waves and other extreme weather will also hit China more often, according to the report.

Few aspects of human endeavor in China will be immune to the devastating effects of global warming, the report suggests.

Even a railway that opened this year linking remote Tibet to provinces further east will be affected.

This is because part of the rail is built on top of subsoil that maintains sub-zero temperatures throughout the year but may start to thaw due to hotter weather "threatening the safety of railway operations", the news service said.

"The report will serve as the country's scientific and technical reference in policy making and international cooperation," said Li Xueyong, vice minister of the science ministry.

The report notes that China has already started seeing the effects of global warming, the China News Service said.

Glaciers in the nation's northwest have decreased by 21 percent since the 1950s, the report says, according to the news agency.

It also says all China's major rivers have shrunk over the past five decades, although it provides no figures for the actual decrease.

In a separate report, the state-run Xinhua news agency said the water level in the middle reaches of the nation's longest river, the Yangtze, hit a record low this week.

The port city of Anqing, on the Yangtze River, encountered a low of 1.95 meters (6.4 feet) on Tuesday, a level posing a risk to shipping, Xinhua said.

Xinhua did not directly attribute the problems to global warming but quoted experts as saying the low water levels were due to a decrease in rainfall.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
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Rising Sea Levels Engulfing Indian World Heritage Islands
Kolkata (AFP) Dec 21, 2006
Rising sea levels have submerged two islands in the Sunderbans, where tigers roam through mangrove forests in the Ganges River delta, and a dozen more islands are under threat, scientists say. A six-year study of the impact of future climate change on the world natural heritage site that India shares with Bangladesh came up with alarming results.

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