Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Glacial Melting - China

Climate Frog reported on the retreating glaciers on the south side of the Himalayas, a process that threatens the water supply to over a billion people. Now comes this report from the San Francisco Chronicle concerning glacial melting on the north side of the same mountainous region, this time affecting the water supply to a good part of China, home to another billion-plus citizens.

China has recognized the impact of this dwindling water supply as it has affected the high plateau grasslands, which had long supported the raising of livestock. With the shrinking of the pasture, many primitive ranchers have lost their livelihoods. Relocation - now common in China due to the damming of rivers and desertification - has become the solution for water-starved ranchers, too.

The Qinghai-Tibetan plateau is warming up faster than anywhere else in the world, Chinese scientists said last week. The region's average annual temperature is rising at a speed of 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit every 10 years, threatening to melt glaciers, dry up the 3,395-mile Yellow River and cause more droughts, sandstorms and desertification.

The plateau once contained 36,000 glaciers covering an area of 18,000 square miles, but in recent decades, the area of these glaciers has shrunk by 30 percent, say scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The government has forcibly moved thousands of nomads into local towns, giving them free housing and 8,000 yuan (about $1,060) per year.

China, with its huge population and currently booming economy, will be as important as the U.S. in future calculations of global warming progress. Like the U.S., it must balance current economic prosperity and trends in that direction with the increasingly obvious impacts of its industrial development.

The nationwide economic boom has propelled China into overtaking the United States as the world's No. 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to new data released in May. China's output of emissions is rising by an annual amount that far outstrips the cutbacks that wealthy nations are committed to make under the Kyoto Protocol.

"The Chinese government is gradually realizing that global warming is something that will deeply affect the Chinese people and their economic security," said Yang Ailun, climate program coordinator for Greenpeace in China.

In international climate negotiations, China's leaders have refused to consider binding limits on the country's emissions, arguing that limits should be imposed only on wealthy nations. Instead, China has adopted a goal of reducing the amount of energy expended per unit of wealth - a weaker yardstick that many environmentalists have criticized as insufficient.


2 comments:

BHUVAN CHAND JUYAL said...

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BHUVAN CHAND JUYAL said...

I am a regular reader of your article. And I am very impress with your blog upon Global Warming. Now I am also write a blog upon effects and causes of Global Warming. This blog is collection of news & reviews like the study found that global warming since 1985 has been caused neither by an increase in solar radiation nor by a decrease in the flux of galactic cosmic rays. Some researchers had also suggested that the latter might influence global warming because the rays trigger cloud formation.