China is in the grip of one of the worst droughts in history and it is threatening to bring the second largest economy in the world to its knees.
Persistent lack of rainfall for several years is putting a significant amount of strain on the electricity supply and food production – and if the situation does not improve soon, there will be a global food crisis as well as shortages in industrial materials and consumer goods.
Currently, the globe is already in the grip of a supply chain crisis, caused by the pandemic lockdowns – something China has continued to do on and off for the past two years – but what is being seen now regarding supply of food and materials, is only the tip of the iceberg if China collapses.
The entire world will feel the effects if the water situation does not rectify itself soon.
“Unlike other commodities, water does not have any viable substitutes,” reports Foreign Affairs. “It is essential for growing food, generating energy, and sustaining humanity.”
“For China, water has also been crucial to the country’s rapid development: currently, China consumes ten billion barrels of water per day – about 700 times its daily oil consumption. Four decades of explosive economic growth, combined with food security policies that aim at national self-sufficiency, have pushed northern China’s water system beyond a sustainable level, and they threaten to do the same in parts of southern China as well.”
Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin and North China Plain are all currently at least 50 percent below the United Nations’ definition of acute water scarcity, with the major cities being the worst of the bunch.
The situation is so bad, that Egypt had double the amount of available water than North China Plain, and this was during a time in 2019, when the African nation was experiencing severe water shortages and they are not a manufacturing behemoth like China.
The water that China does have, is also highly contaminated and scientists have said that nearly 20 percent of China’s surface water is not only not fit for human consumption, but also not fit for any use at all – including irrigation or for animals.
“The quality of groundwater – which is critical for ensuring water supplies during drought – was worse, with approximately 30 percent being deemed unfit for human consumption and 16 percent deemed unfit for any use,” reports further explain.
For decades now, China has been operating on a massive scale, while also polluting the air, soil and water – with little regulations and no consequences from more industrialized countries that at least attempt to not destroy their surroundings – think the Paris Accord, the agreement that America cuts back all industry to “save the planet,” while China is literally allowed to continue unabated.
Toxic materials have been leaching into the soil and dumped straight into water supplies for decades now, and although the United States has its own issues with similar industry practices – China is far, far worse.
“Data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization indicate that China uses nearly two and a half times as much fertilizer and four times as much pesticide as the United States does despite having 25 percent less arable land,” Foreign Affairs explains.
For nearly two decades, the North China Plain has seen a steady decline in the amount of water they have available and there has been a noticeable loss in many rivers and lakes in the area that is home to close to one billion people.
“In parts of North China, groundwater levels have declined by a meter per year, causing naturally occurring underground water storage aquifers to collapse, which has triggered land subsidence and compromised the aquifers’ potential for future recharge,” Foreign Affairs warns.
“Recognizing the urgency of the problem, China’s government in 2003 launched the $60 billion South-to-North Water Transfer Project, which draws water from tributaries of the Yangtze River to replenish the dry north. To boost rainfall (and sometimes engineer better weather, for example, for Olympics ceremonies and party anniversary events), China has also deployed aircraft and rockets to lace clouds with silver iodide or liquid nitrogen, a process known as cloud seeding.”