Thursday, December 9, 2010

Environmental changes challenge Vietnam

John Ruwitch and Ho Binh Minh in Reuters:…Cropland salination represents just one of the many increasingly acute environmental challenges in Vietnam, exacerbated by climate change, that are testing the government's ability to coordinate countermeasures. While negotiators in Cancun work to lay the foundation for a deal to try to turn down the global thermostat, or at least slow its rise, Vietnam is in the early stages of cobbling together plans to adapt to changes already starting to take place.

Study after study flag Vietnam as one of the most vulnerable countries on earth to the effects of climate change, such as a sea level rise and volatile weather. The Mekong Delta is particularly at risk. Nearly half of the country's rice is grown in the Delta, including almost all that Vietnam sends abroad to make it the world's second-biggest rice exporter after Thailand. A fifth of Vietnam's 86 million people live there, and it is one of earth's most biodiverse regions.

The government said in a report last year a third of the Mekong Delta could be submerged if the sea rose by 1 meter (3 ft). Other parts of the beach-lined country will be swamped, volatile weather patterns will hurt flood- and drought-prone areas and warmer temperatures will trim rice yields.

A study by the International Food Policy Research Institute this year estimated that a sea level rise of 17 cm (6.7 in) accompanied by other changes in climate could slash rice yields country-wide by as much as 18.4 percent by 2030….

Rice terraces in Vietnam, presumably somewhat safe from sea level rise, shot by Casablanca1911, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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