China on Friday issued its first national drought alert of the year after 66 rivers dried up in the country’s southwest. The drought, coupled with intense heatwaves due to forest fires, pose a serious threat to China’s crops. Earlier this week, Chinese officials announced ‘several new measures to help alleviate the drought impact,’ including financial aid, cloud seeding and shutdowns of some energy-intensive industries.
China’s drought crisis explained:
1. The Washington Post called the crisis China’s ‘worst drought on record’ as soaring temperatures dry up parts of the critical Yangtze River, damaging crops and limiting drinking water supplies to some rural communities.
2. A national ‘yellow alert’ – two notches below the most serious warning on Beijing’s scale – was issued late Thursday after several regions experienced weeks of extreme heat. Government officials have repeatedly cited global climate change as the cause.
3. As many as 66 rivers across 34 counties in southwestern China have dried up due to the scorching heat. Apart from this, rainfall in southern China is down 60 per cent this year compared to seasonal norms.
4. According to data from China’s emergency ministry late Thursday, high temperatures in July alone caused direct economic losses of 2.73 billion yuan ($400 million) and affected 5.5 million people.
5. The government has mobilised special teams to protect crops while it also battles forest fires. Experts warned previously that China, the world’s largest CO2 emitter, would face extreme weather events as a result of climate change.