Friday, February 6, 2009

Bone Dry

The other day, a few of my friends and I were trying to remember the last time it rained in Xi'an. We couldn't. We figured it had to have been in November or October.

From The Associated Press:

BEIJING: China has declared a top-level emergency for the country's worst drought in five decades that has hit eight wheat-growing northern provinces and left more than 4 million people without proper drinking water.

The crisis was raised to a level one emergency from level two late Thursday, the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief said on its Web site.

That means the Flood Control and Drought Relief office takes control of the relief effort. It also triggers help from railway, civil aviation and other transport departments.

The announcement said rainfall in many parts of northern and central China has been 50 to 80 percent less than normal, and that 4.29 million people and more than 2 million livestock were without proper drinking water.

Read On
Doing a Google search right now, I'm having trouble finding any data about Xi'an's precipitation. Just from living in Xi'an though, I can tell you that it hasn't been here raining at all.

Living in a large city, this isn't that big of a deal. It is surely a bigger deal for farmers living out in the countryside who depend upon falling rain for survival.

This drying of China is nothing new. Northern and Northwest China are currently being crushed by a massive wave of desertification. The Gobi and Taklamakan deserts in China's Northwest frontier are spreading to other parts of the country very quickly.

North China's desertification, droughts, and, general, drying out is a very serious problem. Combining these phenomena with the melting glaciers in the Himalayas and their falling water tables and it's hard to see where China is going to get its water in the future.

The powers that be in China recognize this fact. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has gone so far to say that "water scarcity threatens the very survival of the Chinese nation."

Humans need water to live. It thus makes sense that a country needs to water to survive as well.

China, particularly Northern China, simply must come up with a way to hydrate itself.

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