Monday, September 3, 2007

Climate change may wash away China's dream

Sydney Morning Herald: The huge industrial zone at the heart of the "Made in China" economic miracle could be inundated by sea water as a result of global warming, scientists say. Meteorologists in Guangdong, the coastal province neighbouring Hong Kong which has led China's manufacturing boom, estimate sea levels could rise by 30 centimetres by 2050. That could lead to more than 1200 square kilometres of the province being flooded, the report by its weather authority said.

Worst affected would be the major hubs of Guangzhou, the provincial capital; Zhuhai, which borders Macau; and Foshan, home to a vast range of factories including several of those caught up in the recent safety recall by the US toy company Mattel.

Du Raodong, a weather bureau scientist, told the China Daily that southern China was warming more quickly than the rest of the country, partly due to its economic development which had come at the expense of its land resources and led to the production of many industrial pollutants.

As well as the loss of land due to flooding, the province would suffer from salt tides, tainting its fresh water with sea water and posing a major threat to drinking water supplies. A build-up of algae would damage crops.

The report will add weight to recent arguments that not only must China address the environmental consequences of its growth, often achieved with scant regard to pollution control, but that the so-called "Guangdong model" of development might need to be readdressed….

At UN climate change talks in Vienna this week, China argued its one-child policy had helped the fight against global warming by avoiding 300 million births. Rejecting criticism that it is doing too little to confront climate change, the Chinese delegation said its population was 1.3 billion, as against the 1.6 billion projected if it had not imposed tough birth control measures in the late 1970s.

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