From: Associated Press
Published January 3, 2007 12:00 AM

China Report Warns of Agriculture Problems from Climate Change

BEIJING -- Climate change will harm China's ecology and economy in the coming decades, possibly causing large drops in agricultural output, said a government report made public Wednesday.

The report, issued by six government departments including the State Meteorological Bureau, the China Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Technology, comes several days after state media said 2006 was hotter than average with more natural disasters than normal.

"Climate change will increase the instability of agricultural production," the report said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday. "If no measures are taken, in the latter half of the century production of wheat, corn and rice in China will drop by as much as 37 percent."

It said that average temperatures in China would rise by 2 or 3 degrees Celsius in the next 50 to 80 years, and that this would cause "the speed of change to accelerate."

The report did not say what measures should be taken to combat climate change. It added that evaporation rates for some inland rivers would increase by 15 percent. China already faces a severe water shortage, especially in the northern part of the country.

On Sunday, the state Xinhua News Agency reported that temperatures in 2006 were on average 1 degree higher than in normal years. Meteorological officials were quoted as saying there was less rain than normal, down 16 millimeters (half an inch) from an average year.

Dong Wenjie, director of the Beijing Climate Center, said the high temperatures were caused by global warming, while the annual meteorological report released by the China Meteorological Administration said 2006 had been a disastrous year for loss of life and property damage.

Typhoons, floods and droughts killed 2,704 people and caused economic losses of 212 billion yuan (US$27.2 billion; euro20.65 billion) in 2006, second only to 1998 when an extremely severe flood swept the country, the report said.

China's size and geography make it prone to natural disasters. Every year, natural disaster affect 400 million people and 50 million hectares (123.6 million acres) of farmland, with economic losses equal to 1 percent to 3 percent of gross domestic product, Xinhua said.

Source: Associated Press

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