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Climate Change

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 00/11/26; November 26, 2000.]

The Age, Sunday 26 November 2000

China sighed with relief this summer because the Yellow River, for the first time since 1997, did not run dry before reaching the sea. But scientists are in no doubt that the threat from climate change is growing.

Nearly 400 million people in north China live under conditions of "absolute water scarcity". Hundreds of cities face regular restrictions, with flows as little as one hour a day.

The water table on the north China plain is falling by 1.5 metres a year. Glaciers and lakes have shrunk with alarming speed on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau over the past 15 years.

The average annual temperature on the Tuotuo River, one of the Yangtze's three sources, has risen from minus 4.6 degrees to minus 3.9 degrees since the 1960s - enough to disturb the critical balance between evaporation and precipitation.

China loses nearly 2500 square kilometres of cultivated land annually. Scientists see the Qinghai-Tibet plateau as an early warning system for the world. Energy consumption has grown by 50 per cent in the past decade.


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