By Sun Xiaohua (China Daily) Updated: 2005-10-11 05:57
A catalogue of environmental damage resulting from a climate change is pushing the region around the source of the Yellow River into an ecological breakdown, a survey commissioned by Greenpeace has found.
The survey results say that in the past 50 years, the average temperature in the region near Madoi County in Northwest China’s Qinghai Province, has risen by 0.88 C.
In the past 30 years, the region has lost 17 per cent of its glaciers and 2.39 billion cubic metres of water directly. The rate of melting ice is 10 times faster than it was in the previous 300 years.
“Climate change is the root of the environmental problems there,” said Liu Shiyin, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences who took part in the survey and penned the results.
“Higher temperatures and drier climates due to global warming are melting the glaciers and the permafrost, draining the lakes and leading to land degradation. It is a domino effect that harms the flora, fauna, landscape, people living in that region and the river itself.”
For example, in the past 15 years, among the 4,077 lakes in Madoi County, more than 3,000 of the smaller ones have disappeared. And in many of the remaining lakes, the water margins are shrinking.
The permafrost’s melting seriously affects construction projects, such as road building, on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. As a picture taken during the survey showed, the surface of the Qinghai-Tibet Road has become rough, easily leading to road accidents.
Grassland degradation brings trouble to the lives of nomads. Without enough grass to feed their livestock, many have given up their feeding and become poverty-stricken.
“A climate change is wreaking havoc at the birthplace of China’s ‘Mother River,’” said Li Moxuan, Greenpeace China researcher.