Chinese Scientists: Climate Change Threatens Food Security
Other stories below: Valero Energy is working overtime to stop climate legislation; Sea Level rise poses big threat to Washington, DC
Global warming threatens China’s march to prosperity by cutting crops, shrinking rivers and unleashing more droughts and floods, says the government’s latest assessment of climate change, projecting big shifts in how the nation feeds itself.
The warnings are carried in the government’s “Second National Assessment Report on Climate Change,” which sums up advancing scientific knowledge about the consequences and costs of global warming for China — the world’s second biggest economy and the biggest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution.
Global warming fed by greenhouse gases from industry, transport and shifting land-use poses a long-term threat to China’s prosperity, health and food output, says the report. With China’s economy likely to rival the United States’ in size in coming decades, that will trigger wider consequences.
“China faces extremely grim ecological and environmental conditions under the impact of continued global warming and changes to China’s regional environment,” says the 710-page report, officially published late last year but released for public sale only recently.
… Assuming no measures to counter global warming, grain output in the world’s most populous nation could fall from 5 to 20 percent by 2050, depending on whether a “fertilization effect” from more carbon dioxide in the air offsets losses, says the report.
But that possible fall can be held in check by improved crop choice and farming practices, as well as increased irrigation and fertilizer use.
China is the world’s biggest consumer of cereals and has increasingly turned to foreign suppliers of corn and soy beans.
The report was written by teams of scientists supervised by government officials, and follows up on a first assessment released in 2007. It does not set policy, but offers a basis of evidence and forecasts that will shape policy.
RISING COSTS OF GROWING FOOD
“Generally, the observed impacts of climate change on agriculture have been both positive and negative, but mainly negative,” Lin Erda, one of the chief authors of the report, told Reuters.
“But steadily, as the temperatures continue to rise, the negative consequences will be increasingly serious,” said Lin, an expert on climate change and farming at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
“For a certain length of time, people will be able to adapt, but costs of adaptation will rise, including for agriculture.”
Under different scenarios of greenhouse gas levels and their effects, by the end of this century China’s average atmospheric temperature will have risen by between 2.5 degrees and 4.6 degrees Celsius above the average for 1961-1990.
Water, either too much or too little, lies at the heart of how that warming could trip up China’s budding prosperity.
“Climate change will lead to severe imbalances in China’s water resources within each year and across the years. In most areas, precipitation will be increasingly concentrated in the summer and autumn rainy seasons, and floods and droughts will become increasingly frequent,” says the report.
“Without effective measures in response, by the latter part of the 21st century, climate change could still constitute a threat to our country’s food security,” it says.
Under one scenario of how global warming will affect water availability, by 2050 eight of mainland China’s 31 provinces and provincial-status cities could face severe water shortages — meaning less than 500 cubic meters per resident — and another 10 could face less dire chronic shortages.
“Since the 1950s, over 82 percent of glaciers have been in a state of retreat, and the pace has accelerated since the 1990s,” the report says of China’s glaciers in Tibet and nearby areas that feed major rivers.
The “new energy economy” got a boost last week when OCI Solar Power announced a move to our sunny city to manufacture solar components and produce up to 400 megawatts of solar power for CPS Energy. “San Antonio’s vision is to occupy a space right at the intersection of environmental stewardship and job creation,” said Mayor Julián Castro at a press conference behind La Villita Assembly Hall.
Castro and his predecessor, Phil Hardberger, have called for a bold push into the carbon-free economy to prepare South Texas for a future where global warming finally forces caps on greenhouse gas emissions. While local leaders try to stay a step ahead of the new energy game, San Antonio’s Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corporation are using political spending and litigation to lead an historic battle against state and federal policies that threaten the old energy establishment.
Global warming-related sea level rise constitutes a major threat to the nation’s capital, with the potential to inundate national monuments, museums, military bases, and parts of the Metro Rail system during the next several decades and beyond, according to a recent study published in the journal “Risk Analysis.” The study helps localize a problem that is more typically discussed at the global level, and makes clear that public officials must make decisions in the near-term in order to minimize future losses.
Considering the city’s history, it should come as no surprise to learn that Washington, D.C. is vulnerable to sea level rise. The National Mall and Foggy Bottom were originally marshland, and the area between the Anacostia River and I-295 used to be open water. What is rather disturbing and less well known, though, is just how vulnerable D.C. is to even minor amounts of sea level rise, which according to some studies is virtually guaranteed as the amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to climb, temperatures rise, and mountain glaciers and ice caps melt.
This has been a winterless winter, a season that can’t make it past lunchtime without busting out in a springtime melody. Every time cold weather shows up, it catches a flight back north the next day. Snow this year is a thing of myth and legend.
Tuesday has been typical of Winter 2012 here: Chilly and damp in the morning, but Frisbee weather by mid-afternoon. The calendar insists, implausibly, that it is Jan. 17.
This is the heart of meteorological winter, experts claim. The coldest period in the Washington area is from Jan. 12 to Jan. 23, according to the National Climatic Data Center’s 30-year “climate normals.”
But abnormality is apparently this year’s normal: The National Weather Service’s outlook shows more of the same snowless weather through the rest of January.
Insurance companies don’t care if you believe in climate change or not: Your premiums are going up anyhow.
NPR reported Monday that home insurance premiums are going up across the board in response to the record number of tornadoes, floods, fires, blizzards and other heavy weather that hit the country in 2011.
The piece features insurance executives at major firms such as Allstate and State Farm saying they are raising rates as much as 10%.
The president of the Insurance Information Institute, a New York-based industry association, says the weather caused about $35 billion of insured damages last year in the U.S. in events that caused a total of $70 billion in economic losses.
Writing new regulations that will require cars and trucks to have significantly higher fuel economy by 2025 prompted years of fighting among automakers, environmentalists, regulators and consumer groups.
But now that the standards have been proposed, nearly everyone involved in the process is on board with the results, as a public hearing held Tuesday in Detroit showed.
More than 90 people who spoke throughout the day asserted that the stricter fuel economy requirements would create jobs, reduce oil consumption, create cleaner air and save drivers money, all while helping automakers increase their profits.
“We’re celebrating something that has taken a long time to reach,” said Representative John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who helped quash previous efforts to impose higher mileage standards. “There appears to be no significant opposition amongst responsible persons.”