Global warming threatens China’s march to prosperity by cutting crops, shrinking rivers and unleashing more droughts and floods, says the government’s latest assessment of climate change, projecting big shifts in how the nation feeds itself.
The warnings are carried in the government’s “Second National Assessment Report on Climate Change,” which sums up advancing scientific knowledge about the consequences and costs of global warming for China — the world’s second biggest economy and the biggest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution.
Global warming fed by greenhouse gases from industry, transport and shifting land-use poses a long-term threat to China’s prosperity, health and food output, says the report. With China’s economy likely to rival the United States’ in size in coming decades, that will trigger wider consequences.
"China faces extremely grim ecological and environmental conditions under the impact of continued global warming and changes to China’s regional environment," says the 710-page report, officially published late last year but released for public sale only recently.
Even so, China’s rising emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from burning fossil fuels, will begin to fall off only after about 2030, with big falls only after mid-century, says the report.
Assuming no measures to counter global warming, grain output in the world’s most populous nation could fall from 5 to 20 percent by 2050, depending on whether a “fertilization effect” from more carbon dioxide in the air offsets losses, says the report.
But that possible fall can be held in check by improved crop choice and farming practices, as well as increased irrigation and fertilizer use.
China is the world’s biggest consumer of cereals and has increasingly turned to foreign suppliers of corn and soy beans.