Photo retrieved from: www.reuters.com
“China’s wetlands have shrunk nearly 9 percent since 2003, forestry officials said on Monday, aggravating water scarcity in a country where food production, energy output and industrial activity are already under pressure from water shortages.
China has more than a fifth of the world’s population but only 6 percent of its freshwater resources, and large swathes of the nation, especially in the north, face severe water distress.
Since 2003, wetlands sprawling across 340,000 sq. km. – an area larger than the Netherlands – have disappeared, officials of China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) told reporters.
“The investigation shows that China is facing various problems with wetlands protections,” Zhang Yongli, vice director of the forestry body, told a news conference, adding that loopholes in protection laws imperil the shrinking wetlands.
The lost wetland areas have been converted to agricultural lands, swallowed by large infrastructure projects or degraded by climate change, the forestry administration said.
Wetlands lost to infrastructure projects have increased tenfold since the government’s last survey in 2003, Zhang added.”
Read more: Reuters
Photo retrieved from: www.gurumia.com
“When thousands of Bangladeshi take to the streets again on March 28th as part of a decade-long battle to halt a devastating British-owned open-pit coal mine, the world will not only be watching whether Bangladesh’s government will honor a coal ban agreement from 2006 or resort to violence.
In light of disturbing WikiLeaks cables, American and worldwide human rights and environmental organizations will also be questioning why the Obama administration is covertly pushing for Bangladesh to reverse course and acquiesce to an internationally condemnedmassive open-pit mine that will displace an estimated 100,000-200,000 villagers and ravage desperately needed farm land and water resources.
The short answer, from US Ambassador James Moriarty’s leaked memos:” “Asia Energy, the company behind the Phulbari project, has sixty percent US investment. Asia Energy officials told the Ambassador they were cautiously optimistic that the project would win government approval in the coming months.
Two years ago, an independent review of the coal mine by a British research firm warned:
“Phulbari Coal Project threatens numerous dangers and potential damages, ranging from the degradation of a major agricultural region in Bangladesh to pollution of the world’s largest wetlands. The project’s Summary Environmental Impact Assessment, and its full Environmental and Social Impact Assessment are replete with vague assurances, issuing many promises of future mitigation measures.”
Read more: AlterNet
Floodwaters at the Xiaolandi dam during a flood-discharge and sand-washing operation of the Yellow River in Jiyuan. Photo retrieved from: www.guardian.co.uk
“The five-year plan also includes the most relentless dam-building effort that any nation has ever undertaken in history. If approved, this program would cut off the country’s nose to spite her face. It would irreversibly destroy China‘s great rivers and biodiversity hotspots of global importance.
China already counts more dams within its borders than any other country. It has paid a huge price for this development. Chinese dams have displaced an estimated 23 million people. Dam breaks in the country with the world’s worst safety record have killed approximately 300,000 people. Scientific evidence suggests that one particular project, the Zipingpu Dam, may have triggered the devastating earthquake in Sichuan of 2008. Dams have also taken a huge toll on China’s biodiversity, causing fisheries to suffer and driving charismatic species such as the Yangtze River Dolphin to extinction.
As part of its low-carbon diet, the Chinese government plans to approve new hydropower plants with a capacity of 140 gigawatts over the next five years. For comparison, Brazil, the United States and Canada have each built between 75 and 85 gigawatts of hydropower capacity in their entire history. Achieving the new plan’s target would require building cascades of dams on several rivers in China’s south-west and on the Tibetan plateau – regions which are populated by ethnic minorities, ecologically fragile, rich in biodiversity, and seismically active.”
Read more: Guardian