Climate Change Threatens China’s Crops, State Forecaster

Northern China AgricultureChina’s chief meteorologist recommends adjusting to global warming over fighting it.

On the eve of global climate talks in Copenhagen, China’s chief meteorologist, Zheng Guoguang, has warned of steep reductions in the country’s future harvests due to the effects of global warming.

But rather than focusing on fighting global warming, Zheng, administrator of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), wrote that the country should place a greater emphasis on adapting to global warming’s consequences.

Zheng’s recent article in Qiushi, the ruling Communist Party’s official magazine, predicted that a rise in erratic weather patterns, including greater flooding and drought, will destabilize China’s crop yields, shifting production levels between 30 and 50 percent from year to year. To cope with the fluctuations, the country should take measures that strengthen farmland protection and build water resource projects, he argues. Zheng also wrote that the country should take advantage of predicted climate changes by changing China’s crop pattern.

For instance, he wrote, global warming will allow temperate crops to be grown in northern sections of the country with higher altitudes.

Other measures that he recommended include increasing grain reserves to provide a stable supply when yields are low, improving weather forecasting, developing water-saving agricultural techniques and banning the production of biofuels from grain.

An article on the CMA Web site further describes his position: “Since climate change is an objective fact, it is more realistic and urgent for China, a big developing country, to adapt to than mitigate climate change. So China should put adaptation as top strategy of addressing climate change and put enhancing grain production and ensuring food security as first task.”

A spokesman for Greenpeace China called Zheng’s position short-sighted, according to the South China Morning Post.

“We have heard from President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao that China will take emissions cuts as seriously as adaptation,” said Yang Ailun, a climate change campaigner for Greenpeace China. “If China doesn’t commit, the global effort to slow down global warming will fail. Emissions cuts will help China move onto the track of sustainable development. If the temperature keeps increasing rapidly, no adaptation measures will save us.”

Sources: China Meteorological News Press (, Reuters, Bloomberg News, South China Morning Post

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