It’s a season of snow, rivers
While the world discusses global warming, Beijingers are now shivering without central heating through the onset of the city’s earliest winter in 22 years, reports Reshma Patil.world Updated: Nov 06, 2009 01:43 IST
While the world discusses global warming, Beijingers are now shivering without central heating through the onset of the city’s earliest winter in 22 years.
On Sunday, the Beijing government had to promise to advance the November 15 date of officially switching on central heating after weather modifiers helped temperatures plummet to minus 4 degrees by inducing 16 million tonnes of artificial snowfall to battle a prolonged drought affecting over two million people.
The last man-made snowfall over Beijing was during another parched season in February, when hundreds of silver iodide cocktails were fired to stimulate the clouds.
Inside thirsty China — which denies building a dam on the Brahmaputra — the use of technology to make or prevent rain and snow and divert entire rivers is becoming increasingly evident and expected to keep increasing. “We won’t miss any opportunity of artificial precipitation since Beijing is suffering from the lingering drought,” Zhang Qiang, an official of the weather modification office, was quoted saying on Sunday.
In the days after the artificial snow, the Chinese media ran reports about the nation’s vanishing water sources. The Global Times said China is losing 20 lakes a year. Over 1,000 lakes vanished in the last 50 years — a loss of 9,570 sq km of water area. A Xinhua report said that the drought shrank China’s second-largest freshwater lake, Dongting, by two-thirds in a month. The lake has also reduced by 16 km per year since 2001.
A Chinese expert struck a rare note of caution in these reports. “It’s a result of human activities, such as reclaiming the lake for farmland, over-drilling water, and diverting river routes recklessly,” Yu Hui, a professor in the elite Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, was quoted saying.
Reckless or not, it’s official. Last month, Chinese media announced a project to resettle 3.3 lakh people in central China — the second-largest resettlement since the Three Gorges Dam was built — to partially divert China’s longest Yangtze river from the south to Beijing and the thirsty north.