By staff reporter Lu Rucai
The Impact of Climate Change
Over the past 50 years, the average annual temperature in China has risen by 1.1 degrees centigrade, a faster rate than anywhere else in the world. Following changes to the temperature, rainfall patterns in China have also changed. In southern China, particularly around the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, rainstorms have become more frequent and flood fighting a public topic year in and year out. In contrast, North China, the southern part of Northeast China and the eastern part of Northwest China have suffered from ever more serious droughts, covering increasingly larger areas.
In a report about human development in 2007-2008, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) pointed out that by 2015, per capita carbon dioxide emissions in China will be up to 5.2 tons. Although this is just a quarter of the American figure of 19.3 tons, this rate will nonetheless be disastrous. Two-thirds of China's current glaciers, including those in the Tianshan Mountains, will disappear by 2060, and the rest will be gone by the end of this century.
Increasingly unpredictable climates are not the only problems created by a warming Earth. The unbalanced ratio between temperature rises and rainfall seriously threatens China's grain production. In March 2007, several Chinese government departments issued a joint report evaluating the possible results of climate change. According to the report, unless effective measures are adopted in a timely manner, China's production of wheat, rice and corn will decrease by 37 percent in the latter half of the 21st century, a disastrous outcome in a country of 1.3 billion people.
China's crop production overall will decrease between 14 and 23 percent by 2050, claims Lin Erda and his colleagues at the Agricultural Environment and Sustainable Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. And due to climate change, the areas in China hit by natural disasters have grown to 50 million hectares. "Unless effective and timely measures are taken, in 20 years China will see a food shortfall of 5-10 percent," claims Lin.
According to experts, losses from climate change already equal, on average, three percent of China's annual GDP.