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China warns of ‘serious’ threat to crops from worst heatwave on record

#China #warns #threat #crops #worst #heatwave #record

China’s autumn harvest is “seriously threatened” by high temperatures and drought, authorities have warned, urging measures to protect the crop amid the country’s hottest summer on record.

The world’s second largest economy has been hit this summer by record high temperatures, flash floods and droughts – phenomena scientists have warned are becoming increasingly frequent and intense due to climate change.

Southern China has seen the longest sustained period of high temperatures and scant rainfall since records began more than 60 years ago, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Four government departments issued a notice on Tuesday calling for the conservation of “every unit of water” to protect crops.

“The rapid development of drought, superimposed with high temperatures and heat damage, seriously threatened the autumn harvest,” the statement said.

China produces more than 95 percent of the rice, wheat and corn it consumes, but a smaller harvest could mean increased demand for imports in the world’s most populous nation – putting further pressure on global supplies already hampered by the conflict charged in Ukraine.

Temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) have prompted several Chinese provinces to impose blackouts as cities struggle to cope with a surge in electricity demand, driven in part by people cranking up air conditioning, to deal with the heat.

The megacities of Shanghai and Chongqing have shut down decorative outdoor lighting, while authorities in Sichuan province have imposed industrial blackouts after water levels dropped at key hydroelectric power plants.

More than 1,500 people were displaced from around Chongqing on Monday after hot and dry conditions sparked multiple wildfires, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.

The scorching heat is also drying up the critical Yangtze River, whose main-stem water flow is about 50 percent below the average for the past five years, state media agency China News Service reported last week.

– “The Worst Heat Wave Ever” –

The national weather service on Tuesday renewed its warnings of drought and high temperatures and urged 11 provincial governments to activate emergency response.

Authorities in parts of the country have already turned to cloud seeding – a method of inducing rain.

State broadcaster CCTV this month released footage showing meteorologists launching catalyst rockets into the sky and firefighters transporting water to farmers in need.

“This is the worst heatwave on record,” Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy expert Liu Junyan told AFP.

“Climate science shows that extreme heat is getting exponentially worse,” she said.

“Therefore, it is more likely that next year will have a record heat.”

This year’s extreme weather is raising public awareness of climate change in China, and state-run media “is now coming to report on the impact of climate change with unprecedented urgency,” Liu said.

The government’s climate expert, Zhou Bing, warned of mass displacement caused by climate change over the weekend and described extreme weather as “nature’s revenge” on humanity.

China has experienced three more episodes of intense heat so far this century – 2003, 2013, 2017.

The gap between heat waves is shortening “significantly,” Zhou said.

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#China #warns #threat #crops #worst #heatwave #record

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