massive, months-long heat wave has scorched regions in central China. Intense droughts and evaporating water sources have choked energy supplies in several regions reliant upon hydropower, causing widespread power cuts and forcing businesses of all sizes to halt operations. Human suffering has accompanied the economic strain, with many netizens testifying to fatalities in their communities. As China grapples with interminable pandemic lockdownsrising geopolitical tensions, and economic slowdowns, global climate change has reasserted itself as an existential issue that is too hot to ignore.

The heatwave has caused widespread droughts. China’s National Meteorological Center stated that parts of Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, Hubei, Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou, Chongqing, Sichuan, Shaanxi, Gansu and Tibet have all experienced moderate to severe droughts. Jiangxi’s Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, was reduced to 25 percent of its usual size. Rainfall in the Yangtze River basin has been about 45 percent lower than normal since July, and water levels dropped so low that previously submerged 600-year-old Buddhist statues were uncovered in the river.

Officials have sprung into action to mitigate the drought’s impact on the country’s autumn harvest, which accounts for 75 percent of China’s total grain supply. China’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs declared an “all-out battle” against drought, and four government departments issued an urgent joint emergency notice urging local authorities to ensure “every unit of water … be used carefully.” The government has begun using cloud seeding, forcing rain by firing chemicals into the sky, and discharged hundreds of cubic meters of water from reservoirs to replenish rivers in agricultural zones.

In provinces such as Chongqing and Sichuan, which are heavily reliant on hydropower, energy resources have been stretched thin. CK Tan from Nikkei Asia reported that due to hot temperatures and low water supplies, local governments have ordered power cuts in order to save electricity.

Source: CDT
Foto: NASA