China Environment Brief: August 6, 2010
In today’s Brief: 13 Environmental NGOs unite to initiate the Green Action on China’s Rivers; High-heat due to high-rises
English Stories from the Chinese Press
Tens of thousands of villagers evacuated as fresh downpours threaten riverbanks (Xinhua News)
Photos: Heat waves sizzle Changsha (Xinhua News)
Greenhouses revolutionize rural economy in western China (Xinhua News)
34 poisoned after chemical leak in south China (Xinhua News)
Flooding this year in China will not reach 1998 levels: officials (Xinhua News)
New township officials appointed for confronting flood mishap (Xinhua News)
China to ban additives in fresh juice (China Daily News)
30,000 evacuated in NE China over flood fears (China Daily News)
Dalian oil spill could taint environment for years (Global Times)
Dams strained as rains continue to pound flooded (Global Times)
Tap water supply resumed after manganese contamination in S China town (Global Times)
Workers' deaths in summer heat spark public debate (Global Times)
13 Environmental NGOs unite to initiate the Green Action on China’s Rivers
13 Environmental NGOs in China – including China Green News’ parent environmental NGO, Green Earth Volunteers - have combined their efforts to raise awareness and promote the green initiative on China’s deteriorating rivers, by collectively issuing a report in Hangzhou.
Twelve major water sources were focused on and brought up in the report:
Yangtze River: Major pollution in the Three Gorges Dam Reservoir
Yellow River: Irregular and ad hoc water flows in different regions and seasons
Huai River: Heavy pollution, poor water quality which is a threat to human health
Qingyi River: Serious water pollution that is adversely impacting biodiversity
Heilong River: Industrial and agricultural waste causing major pollution
Hai River: The entire river has deteriorated, with pollution being omnipresent in the river water
Beijing Water System: Severe water shortages, urban water security a risk
Han River: Water availability and quality declining and intermittent
Gan River: Faces ecological problems due to pollution
Qiantang River: Hydrological environment and capacity under severe pressure
Lancang River (Upper reaches of the Mekong River): International disputes over river basin affect effectiveness of green initiatives
Nu River: Water environment and biodiversity under threat
The report issued in light of the government response to the floods or droughts in the summer, and the long-term prevention of these occurrences. Solutions promoted include promoting water conservation, especially through water-saving technologies; a call for research into water science, and a strict environmental assessment; a call to strengthen water protection through pollution control, raising public awareness, and promoting environmental justice. There was further stress on the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.
[Source: Sina News]
High-heat due to high-rises
Throughout the summer, urban areas in China, most notably Beijing, have experienced extremely high temperatures. Last month the North had severely high temperatures, whilst floods ravaged river basins, and particularly the South of China which also had Typhoons. Heading into August, the new forecasts are searing temperatures in the South of China as well. In the period from the 4th-9th of August, the Sichuan Basin is forecast to experience maximum temperatures of 35-39°C, whilst some areas are expecting temperatures of 40°C.
The hot weather is due to a widespread anti-cyclonic weather of high pressure, and much of the blame for the heat is placed on this. But some argue that the issue is not as clear-cut as this. “Global warming is an undisputable fact”, and thus, despite the anti-cyclone, the urban organisation is only worsening its effects. In cities, the infamous heat-island effect has caused intense heat. Building materials such as concrete absorb heat and release this constantly, resulting in a higher urban temperature. Additionally, high buildings block out wind which would have a cooling effect on urban areas. Poor urban planning has allowed China’s immense cities to sprawl in any fashion convenient to developers. The desperate speed of urbanisation in China has caused the natural landscape to disappear in “the blind pursuit for man-made scenery” of high-rises.
The lesson that should be learnt from this hot summer in cities is not to turn up the air-con, but to be proactive and reduce carbon emissions. There is a need for the systematic control of the cities’ expansion and to create sustainable urban development; additionally, if city dwellers actively pursue reducing emissions, the heat island effect can be alleviated.
What the summer’s sweltering heat has left city dwellers longing for is “a big tree, not an air-conditioned high-rise”.
[Source: China Environment News]
Compiled by David Tubby