WASHINGTON: Water shortages in China are reaching "incredible" proportions, a
British environmental expert said on Monday night, citing Shanghai as a
particularly vulnerable location unless dramatic action is taken quickly.
"The Chinese are facing an incredible water-stressed economy," Justin Mundy,
a government adviser on climate change said during a presentation on the
potentially dire consequences of unchecked global warming.
He pointed to the current low levels of aquifers in Shanghai as a prime
example of the problems China faces.
is going to have to use desalinized water in the next 10 years, then build the
infrastructure to import water from Southwest China, he said.
"All the water in Southwest China is fed by glacial melt," he said. "Glacial
melt in about 25 years' time is not going to be there in anything like the
capacity that is going to be required. What then, Shanghai?"
And Shanghai is not alone, Mundy said, contending that 21 of the world's 33
largest cities -- those with populations of 8 million or more face eventual
water supply crises.
Mundy's presentation drew from a newly released report by economist Sir
Nicholas Stern that estimates that global warming could shrink the world economy
by 20 percent over time, but said the costs will be far less if concerted action
is taken now.
Mundy said nations must begin by cooperating with one another, scrapping
traditional concepts of seeking national advantage in international exchanges.
"Up to now, foreign policy, geopolitics, has to some extent been a game of
chess, seeking advantage with one piece or the other," Mundy said. "Our problem
is, it is not the game of chess that is now at stake. What is now at risk is the
chess board itself."
The Stern Report highlighted the risk of serious, irreversible impact of
climate change as concentrations of greenhouse gases rise.
It said a temperature increase in the range of 5 degrees centigrade would
over time cause a sea level rise enough to threaten London, Shanghai, New York,
Tokyo and Hong Kong.
(China Daily 02/07/2007 page4)