Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rising sea levels to take toll on China

China Daily: Rising sea levels and falling river water volumes - as forecast in the latest UN report on climate change - could drastically alter weather patterns and cause huge economic losses in China, a senior meteorological official warned Thursday. Luo Yong, deputy director of the Beijing Climate Center affiliated to the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), said there will be more typhoons, floods and land subsidence as a result of global warming. The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in Spain last Saturday said "human activities could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate changes and impacts".

It said that even if factories were shut down and cars taken off roads, the average sea level will rise up to 140 cm over the next 1,000 years from the pre-industrial period of around 1850. In the next 100 years, it said, sea levels will rise by 18-51 cm. More frequent and heavy floods require China - which has an 18,000-km coastline on the mainland - "to build coastal facilities of higher standard," Luo told a press conference. As coastal regions are economically developed areas, the loss from typhoons and floods will be magnified, Luo said. He also warned that higher sea levels will lead to further land subsidence, which is already being seen in some coastal areas.

Another major threat from global warming is water shortage, Luo said. In the past 50 years, the six major rivers in the country have seen their water volumes reduced sharply, especially those in the north, such as the Yellow and Huaihe rivers. Ground water storage has also dropped markedly, he added. The water shortage will take a toll on the farming sector, hurting grain production; and industrial and domestic consumption will be affected, he said. Luo said that China will possibly see more flooding in the north and drought in the south, the reverse of the current weather pattern. Song Dong, an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said next month's international talks on global warming in Bali, Indonesia, are expected to focus on greenhouse gas cuts by rich countries and the transfer of more clean technology to developing nations.

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