Sunday, June 05, 2011

A Dying River Runs Through It

See this sobering article on the coming craziness concerning China's water problems. It only scratches the surface of what China faces as a whole - decreasing water volume and increasing water pollution. Although the precise melting rate lacks scientific consensus, glacial melting in the Tibetan Plateau threatens China’s principal source of freshwater (and that of South/Southeast Asia in general). Black soot from air pollution is a main cause behind glacial melting in the Tibetan Plateau, its deposits darkening the ice, which consequently absorbs more solar energy and reflects less, contributing to a greater rate of melting.

As for water use... The Yangtze River flows from Qinghai Province on the Tibetan Plateau to Shanghai, accounting for 35-40% of China’s freshwater resources and 70% of its rice production as it winds through more than 6000km of the country. 14.2 billion tons of waste is dumped annually into the Yangtze alone. A 2007 WWF report concluded that the resulting damage to aquatic life is probably irreversible. As of 2005, 59% of China’s seven main rivers, which together serve 88% of the country’s population, were considered undrinkable due to toxic spills, run-off from China’s pesticide-heavy agricultural sector, municipal wastewater, and biological and chemical pollution accumulation.

Meanwhile, this pressure grows: Our planet, our food.

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