The farm sector and the coal sector together made up 85 percent of China’s water use last year. These photos take a look at the people and places affected by rising energy demand, accelerating modernization, and diminishing freshwater resources.
In 2010, the national coal sector used 138 billion cubic meters (36.5 trillion gallons), or 23 percent of the nation’s freshwater reserves. By 2020, according to government estimates, the coal sector will use 188 billion cubic meters (49.7 trillion gallons), making up 28 percent of the nation’s total water use. Meanwhile, agricultural water use — 371 billion cubic meters in 2010, or 62 percent of total use — is expected to drop to 360 billion cubic meters (95.1 trillion gallons), or 54 percent of the 670 billion cubic meters (177 trillion gallons) that China is expected to use in 2020.
Photographs by J. Carl Ganter, a Traverse City-based photojournalist and director of Circle of Blue.
This slideshow was made to accompany China’s Other Looming Choke Point: Food Production by Keith Schneider, Traverse City-based senior editor for Circle of Blue.
J. Carl Ganter is co-founder and director of Circle of Blue, the internationally recognized center for original frontline reporting, research, and analysis on resource issues with a focus on the intersection between water, food, and energy.