The Yangtze – Asia’s biggest river – is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years, forcing an unprecedented release of water from the Three Gorges reservoir, The Guardian reported. Between this week and June 10, the dam is to release five billion cubic metres of water as engineers sacrifice hydroelectric generation for irrigation, drinking supplies and ecosystem support.
According to the Three Gorges Corporation, the discharging can last only to June 10 if there is no more water supply to the reservoir from the Yangtze’s upper reaches and no wide-ranging rainfall covering the lower parts of the river, china.org said.
The survival of the Yangtze’s finless porpoises, a highly endangered freshwater dolphin species, is under threat from the drought in central China, Xinhua quoted experts as warning.
Thousands of ethnic Mongolians reportedly took to the streets in Xilinhot city, Inner Mongolia, demanding justice for a herder run over by a Chinese coal-truck driver while trying to block coal trucks from driving over fragile grasslands, the Associated Press reported.
China’s environmental protection ministry is cracking down on pollution caused by lead and other heavy metals following a spate of poisoning cases and reports that much of the country is contaminated with toxic materials, according to the Associated Press. New rules were announced after dozens of children living near a battery plant in Guangdong province were sickened by lead poisoning.
Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China, implicated in close to one-quarter of all deaths nationwide, People and Planet said, citing health-ministry data. Many of the cancer cases were linked to air and water pollution and other environmental contaminants. Most striking is the high incidence of cancer in rural areas.
The food and drug administration announced it would conduct inspections to check on the implementation of a measure regulating restaurants’ use of food additives, Xinhua reported. The inspection tour is to be conducted in Shanxi, Jilin, Anhui, Hainan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Qinghai, Tianjin, Ningxia and Chongqing.
Wu Bangguo, chairman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, urged South Africa to join with China in developing clean, renewable energy, Xinhua said. On a visit to South Africa, Wu expressed hope that the two countries would increase their cooperation in such fields as nuclear, solar and wind energy, and coal chemicals.
China has proposed a tsunami warning system, linking countries in the seismically active South China Sea region, China Daily reported. The system would allow countries to share information and enhance their ability to forecast tsunamis or other marine disasters.
The State Forestry Administration and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have set up a research centre that will focus on epidemic diseases affecting wild animals, according to Xinhua. Yin Hong, vice minister of forestry, said the risk of animal diseases being transmitted to humans has increased due to changes in the world’s environment and climate.
Prepared in cooperation with PACE
China for the first time commits to a phase out of its domestic ivory industry, but illegal trading and poaching means African elephants and rhinos remain under grave threat