China Issues First National Drought Alert
An exposed riverbed, due to low water levels caused by drought, along the Jialing River near the confluence with the Yangtze River in Chongqing, China, on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. Water levels on parts of the Yangtze River, China’s largest waterway and home to its top hydro power station, dropped to the lowest on record for this time of year, according to state media reports. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Authorities in China have issued their first nationwide drought alert of the year as they fight forest fires and deploy specialist teams to protect crops from the Yangtze river basin’s scorching temperatures.

China Issues First National Drought Alert

Government officials have repeatedly blamed global climate change for the recent heat wave that has affected areas from Sichuan in the southwest to Shanghai in the Yangtze delta, prompting the late Thursday issuance of a nationwide “yellow alert.” The alert level is only two steps away from the highest possible warning on Beijing’s scale.

Poyang Lake in central China’s Jiangxi province, one of the Yangtze’s important flood basins, has shrunk to a quarter of its normal size for this time of year, state news agency Xinhua reported on Thursday.

State media CCTV reported on Friday that drought had dried up 66 rivers in 34 counties in Chongqing’s southwestern region.

According to CCTV, which relied on information provided by the local government, this year’s rainfall in Chongqing is 60% lower than average, leaving the soil in several districts severely dehydrated.

First National Drought Alert

Temperatures reached 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday in the district of Beibei, located to the north of Chongqing’s urban center, according to the Chinese weather bureau.

Six of the ten hottest places in China on Friday morning were in Chongqing, with Bishan district temperatures nearing 39 degrees Celsius. Temperatures had risen to a scorching 37 degrees in Shanghai.

Chongqing’s emergency services and infrastructure have been put under strain as wildfires have broken out in the region’s mountains and forests. Official sources also noted an uptick in heat stroke incidents.

REASON’S FOR NATIONAL DROUGHT ALERT

Environmental Issues In China

The rapid industrialization of the country, combined with a lack of attention paid to the environment until the early 2000s, led to a rise in environmental problems in China. The 2020 Environmental Performance Index ranked China at #120 out of 180 countries.

Western media have criticized the Chinese government’s actions as inadequate, despite the fact that the Chinese government has acknowledged the problems and made various responses, resulting in some improvements.

Environmental Issues In China

 A retired government official in China claimed that there were more than 50,000 environmental protests in 2012. This trend toward citizen activism against government decisions that are damaging to the environment has been a prominent trend in recent years.

The government has prioritized environmental protection since the 2010s through initiatives like the 13th Five-Year Plan and the reform of the Environmental Protection Law in 2015. Air pollution has decreased in China from 2013 to 2018, and sulfur dioxide levels dropped by 70% between 2006 and 2017.

 China invested US$126.6 billion, or 45% of the global total, in renewable energy in 2017, out of a total global investment of US$279.8 billion. Since then, China has risen to prominence as a renewable energy powerhouse, both as a producer and a consumer.

 It now produces more solar panels, wind turbines, and hydroelectric energy facilities than any other country, and more electric vehicles and buses than any other nation.

REASON’S FOR NATIONAL DROUGHT ALERT

From a global vantage point, China is a signatory to many important environmental treaties. The Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Convention on Biological Diversity, Climate Change Treaty, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Endangered Species Treaty, Hazardous Wastes Treaty, and Law of the Sea.

Similar to India, China has signed but not ratified the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol, which would require it to reduce its carbon emissions.

Deforestation

While only about 20% of China is covered in trees, the country is home to some of the world’s largest swaths of forest, making it a prime focus of forest conservation efforts.

 According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), China has more “closed forests” (i.e., virgin, old growth forest, or naturally regrown woods) than any of the other top 15 countries in the world as of 2001.

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 More than 111 million acres, or 12% of China’s total land area, are covered in dense forests that cannot be entered. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that high population densities are putting pressure on 36% of China’s closed forests, highlighting the importance of conservation efforts in this region. When asked to rank the world’s ten most endangered forest regions, Conservation International chose southwest Sichuan in 2011.

Land Pollution

Soil contamination called the “poor stepchild” of the Chinese environmental movement in a July 2015 article by Elizabeth Economy, director of Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, who also questioned the efficacy of recent measures from the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Economy published her article in The Diplomat.

The River Runs Black, her 2004 book, begins, “The past two decades of rapid economic development in China have marked by the rapid depletion of the country’s natural resources and the exponential increase in pollution. 

Significant public health issues, mass migration, economic loss, and social unrest have all linked to environmental degradation.

Natural Disasters

Natural Disasters

Jared Diamond identifies six main environmental issues in China, including pollution of air, water, and soil; destruction of habitat; loss of biodiversity; and large-scale construction projects (megaprojects).

 The number, severity, and widespreadness of China’s natural disasters have made the country notorious, he added. Dust storms, landslides, droughts, and floods are all examples of natural disasters that have been “closely related to human environmental impacts” in China.

FAQs – People Also Ask

What are the main environmental issues in China?

Jared Diamond identifies six main environmental issues in China, including pollution of air, water, and soil; destruction of habitat; loss of biodiversity; and large-scale construction projects (megaprojects).

How is China harming the environment?

According to the media, the nation is ramping up its construction of coal-fired power plants, the largest source of CO2 emissions. Mercury, a harmful neurotoxin, is emitted at a rate higher than in any other city in the world by Beijing’s factories. If environmental data is made public, it can help improve air quality in the long run.

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