Acid rain threatening food chain
Updated: 2006-08-07 09:10 BEIJING (AFP) - China's sharp
rise in sulphur dioxide emissions, the main component of acid rain, is ruining
the nation's croplands and threatening the food chain in rivers and lakes,
experts have said.
The emissions, largely caused by burning coal to sate China's booming
appetite for electricity and by vehicle exhaust, are further exacerbating severe
ecological degradation in the world's most populous nation, they said.
China announced this week that it emitted nearly 26 million tons of sulphur
dioxide last year, a 27 percent increase since 2000, making the nation the
world's biggest polluter of acid rain-causing substances.
"The sulphur dioxide acidifies the soil, hurting the roots of the crops that
farmers are growing and reducing total yields," Edwin Lau, assistant director of
the Hong Kong branch of Friends of the Earth, told AFP.
"Acidity of rivers and lakes also affects the growth of marine organisms,
killing the lower-level species needed by bigger organisms to survive and
disrupting the food chain."
Such negative impacts on the environment could lead to social instability in
acid rain-hit areas as Chinese crop growers and fish farmers increasingly
struggle to earn a living in face of a worsening environment, Lau said.
Each ton of sulphur dioxide causes 20,000 yuan (2,500 dollars) in economic
losses, according to Li Xinmin, deputy director general of the State
Environmental Protection Administration's pollution control department.
This means China suffered nearly 65 billion dollars in
economic losses last year from sulphur dioxide emissions, he told journalists on