China is facing increasing water crises

According to a recent article from the French daily Le Monde, China is experiencing more and more difficulties to answer its water needs as a severe drought strikes the country.

This reinforces even more the problems of water scarcity and pollution that the People’s Republic is facing and one can ask how the Chinese will solve the problems.

I propose you below a resume of this very interesting article as well as additional notes, taken from my previous readings and articles.

China accounts for only seven percent of the world water reserves and a population worth a fourth of the total. This seriously stresses the water scarcity issues and explains why irrigation originated from China four millennia ago.

It is estimated by Le Monde that 400 of the 600 biggest Chinese towns are already suffering from water scarcity and that 30 million people in the countryside are facing water shortages every year.

If the lack of water wasn’t enough, pollutions of all kinds seriously add up to the crisis as every month small ecological crises occur in China and confront its inhabitants to temporary shortages.

In May 2007 Lake Tai’s ecosystem imploded due to an overflow of nutrients from local agriculture. This deprived millions of people from water during several weeks.

For more details on this event, please read this article from the International Herald Tribune. The image right is taken from there.

Le Monde concludes its article by stating that as the President Hu Jintao speaks of an ecological civilization, China has to not only prevent future crises but also to apply the rules and regulations already put in application to protect rivers.

The regions of the deltas of the Perl River and the Yangtze are accounting for two third of the Chinese economy are to Le Monde paying a large ecological tribute, and importantly underestimated, due to the industrial and economical surge.

All this brought me to think of the various things I learned in 2007 on this all too important issue.

When I was reading Jared Diamond’s book Collapse, how societies choose to fail or succeed I was struck by the description of China’s water problems. To this researcher, such problems (with other ones) might lead if not tackled seriously and rapidly to the collapse of the country. Water scarcity was an important part of the disappearance of the Mayas.

Additional fear were brought while I was writing here an article and the 100,000 deaths due to water quality problems there. This was a study done by the world bank and the data is appalling.

Even more disturbing and worrisome news were brought to me as I am currently reading Lester Brown’s Plan B 2.0.

In this book the founder of the Worldwatch Institute and president of the Earth Policy Institute have a look at the future water supplies in Asia as climate would warm due to climate change.

To him, with the Himalayas’ snow disappearing – an all too serious hypothesis when we know that the snow from the Mount Kilimanjaro is progressively disappearing – water supply in the dry season would come to lack even more in populous countries such as India, China and Vietnam.

Be sure that I will keep you posted on this issue as news arise, so for this and much more, stay tuned !

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