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Climate change worsening all aspects of life in China, says leaked IPCC report

Joydeep Gupta

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The leaked report of the world’s leading body of climate experts says threats to water, food, health, homes, industries and ecosystems in China are all rising due to global warming

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This is the fifth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change (IPCC) (Image by Austin Yoder)

 

Asia faces a worsening water crisis, according to a leaked report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Water demand from rising populations and living standards, and poor management, – in addition to climate change – will increase the scarcity of freshwater for large portions of Asia, says the summary of the IPCC Working Group II report, due to be published on March 31.

Working Group II deals with adaptation and vulnerability to climate change. The report of Working Group I – which looks at climate science – was released late last year. The report of Working Group III – on mitigating climate change – is scheduled for release in April. Together they form the fifth assessment report of IPCC, a collective of thousands of scientists who form the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. The fourth assessment report was released in 2007.

Agriculture and Food Security

The IPCC says decreasing rainfall and snowfall will lead to more water scarcity in northern China. The situation there is already dire due to the growing population and expanding water withdrawal.

According to the scientists, warming temperatures may adversely affect rice and other crops growing near their heat stress limits in China every July and August. The most vulnerable regions for reduced rice yield are western Japan, eastern China, the southern part of the Indochina peninsula and the northern part of south Asia.

On the other hand, winter wheat yields could increase in some areas, such as the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, China’s most productive wheat-growing region, due to warmer nighttime temperatures and higher precipitation. But maize yield could decrease by 25% by the 2080s (compared to 1961-90) in the North China Plain.

By the middle of this century, Asia’s urban population will increase by 1.4 billion and will account for over 50% of the global population. Climate change will compound the many stresses caused by rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and economic development. Asia experienced the highest number of weather- and climate-related disasters in the world during 2000-08 and suffered huge economic losses, accounting for the second highest proportion (27.5%) of the total global economic loss.

Flood risk
 
A large proportion of Asia’s population lives in low elevation coastal zones that are particularly at risk from climate change hazards, including sea-level rise, storm surges, and typhoons. Half to two-thirds of Asia’s cities with a million or more inhabitants are exposed to one or multiple hazards, with floods and cyclones being the most important.
 
Three of the world’s five most populated cities - Tokyo, Delhi, and Shanghai - are located in areas with high risk of floods and climate change threatens to increase their frequency and intensity. The IPCC expects that by the 2070s, the top Asian cities in terms of population exposure to coastal flooding will be Kolkata, Mumbai, Dhaka, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Shanghai, Bangkok, Rangoon and Hai Phòng.
 
The scientists point out that climate change-induced floods already threaten vulnerable regions that have high concentrations of people and infrastructure in China, India and Bangladesh.
 
The combined effect of climate change and over-withdrawal of groundwater in many Asian cities, including China's Tianjin, will probably result in land subsidence and may increase hazard exposure due to coastal inundation and sea-level rise.
 
Effects on health
 
Health experts in the IPCC say increases in heavy rain and temperature will increase the risk of diarrheal diseases, dengue fever and malaria. There will probably be deterioration in drinking-water quality, mosquito proliferation, increased exposure to rodent-borne pathogens and intermediate snail hosts of Schistosoma and more epidemics. Flooding-induced contamination of urban water supplies will probably increase exposure to pathogens and toxic compounds.
 
Warmer temperatures and more heat waves will likely to lead increased mortality and morbidity especially in vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, children, the poor and people with cardiovascular and respiratory disorders. Climate change will probably increase the frequency of heat stress disorders among workers, leading to productivity losses.
 
Climate change will affect the local transmission of many climate-sensitive diseases. Increases in heavy rain and temperature are projected to increase the risk of diarrheal diseases in China. Climate change is also expected to increase the distribution of schistosomiasis in northern China.
 
Effects on ecosystems
 
Terrestrial systems in many parts of Asia have responded to recent climate change with shifts in the timing of blooming, growth rates and the distributions of plant species. Permafrost degradation and future climate change are expected to further increase these impacts.
 
The scientists say earlier spring greening and longer growing seasons are expected to continue in humid temperate and boreal forest areas and this may increase the distribution of pests and diseases. Boreal forests are expected to expand northward and eastward at the expense of the tundra.
 
The permafrost is projected to decrease 20-90% by 2100 in North Asia and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which will have substantial impacts on erosion, infrastructure, and livelihoods. Alpine vegetation may be largely replaced by forest or shrubland on the Tibetan Plateau. Snow leopard habitat in the Himalaya is expected to contract by up to 30% as forests replace open habitats.
 
Bamboo is projected to decline in the Qinling Mountains, with potentially adverse consequences for the giant pandas that rely on them for food.

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气候变化正在逐步减缓

我在中国工作了六年。在此期间,我曾担任大学讲师,并向国家发改委北京产权交易所的领导人提出建设沙漠绿色隔离带,改造沙漠为耕地的建议。但是,新任领导对此项目的实施和可取之处了解的比较少。在我看来,气候变化导致的沙漠化贫穷只是众多问题中的一个。在中国,由于不合理的种植方式,大量肥沃的土壤正在逐步被消耗,大大减少了可耕地的种植面积。据估计,中国需要恢复至少2亿公顷的沙漠为可种植的食品饲料耕地来支持粮食供应。这将会是一项新兴的科学技术,作为G77国的重要成员国,中国如果采取这项措施,其他由于人为因素导致沙漠化的国家也可以效仿中国,以发展食品饲料林业来吸收大气中的CO2,达到自力更生,并能够从西方国家购买商品和服务,实现财政和环境的彻底复兴。

Climate change reversal

I spent 6 yrs in PRC advising previous admin CBEX NDRC and lecturing at Universities leading in planting out CO2e sequestering vegetation in deserts. The new admin knows little of the work and success. Climate change desertification poverty are a single issue in solution. China continues to by farms global at a fraction of the productive soil loss at home. PRC needs at least 200 million hectares of deserts back to soil food fodder forestry. It is new science to PRC however if adopted and as leader of G77 other anthropogenic desert nation could follow capturing CO2e growing food fodder forestry and become self reliant leading to purchasing good and services from the west. A bottom up recovery in financial and environmental terms


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