Heavy rain floods south China

A monk trains in wushu kung fu at the ancient Shaolin monastery. The temple is the birthplace of Chan Buddhism and kung fu external and internal martial arts. The Shaolin temple in days past sent monks to attack and briefly stun enemies within their range. Returning to the temple after each attack, rinse and repeat until the enemies either died or retreated from the temple’s range. Historically, the monks were killed by imperial and communist authorities for practicing the fighting arts due to real fear of their skills and to stifle the monk’s support of rebellions against authority. Only in recent years have authorities reopened the temples. The monastery took on water in Henan province after heavy rains during the flooding in 2021 that drowned thousands in the subway cars of Zhengzhou.

The average world temperature has risen by 1.2 Celcius. That increase may not sound like much, but that wisp of the greenhouse gas CO2 heats the ocean’s surface water and pumps 8.4% more water vapor into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide levels are 50% higher than they have been for millions of years. Longer than humans have existed, we did not evolve into warm temperatures, yet here we are. The chickens have come home to roast.

In 1968, Blood Sweat and Tears released their single, Spinning Wheel. It is a snappy tune with kickass trumpet playing, and the earworm what goes up must come down, All of the additional moisture from the sea’s surface needs to come down somewhere, and that somewhere appears to be China.

Though China has always suffered from intense flooding, without the role of global heating, there would not be as much precipitation. And China is getting hammered by godawful heavy rainfall flooding events recently, many of which coincide with other flooding events across the country with the exception of northern China, where a major drought is taking its toll). Contaminated water, power outages, agricultural fields ruined, drowning wildlife, livestock, and humans, and untold infrastructure damage have been the victims of these climate shocks. The heavily, coal-dependent, and the overpopulated country is only at the beginning of the crisis.

CNN reports that heavy rain has pounded eight of China’s provinces. The deluge in this event has occurred over several days, swelling rivers and tributaries and triggering landslides. Cold and warm air has converged over southern China, and the two sides have entered a deadlock and a tug of war,” Wang Weiyue, a weather analyst at China Meteorological Administration. Reuters.

China’s annual flood season traditionally begins in June and is usually most severe in the densely populated agricultural areas along the Yangtze River and its tributaries.

But it has been growing more intense and dangerous in recent years and experts have warned things could get worse.

In April, the National Climate Center warned that extreme torrential rains were expected to lash the southern and southwestern parts of the country, as well as the normally dry desert terrain of southern Tibet.

China recorded average annual rainfall of 672.1 mm last year, which was 6.7% above normal, according to a report released by the National Climate Center in May. The report concluded that China’s weather anomalies were getting worse, especially in terms of rainstorm intensity during the summer months.

The record rainfall comes amid efforts by China to tackle climate change.

The country’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment last week announced a new national climate change strategy to build resilience against the effects of global warming by 2035. The roadmap puts more emphasis on monitoring climate change and its related effects as well as developing early warning and risk management systems.

At least 1.1 million residents in China’s southeastern province of Jiangxi were affected by floods and downpours between May 28 and June 11, according to state news agency Xinhua, while 223,000 hectares of agricultural farmland in the timber and bamboo producing province were destroyed.

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Yeah, that release of dam water did happen, the Fengshuba Reservoir floodgates were deliberately opened, and downstream communities were not advised. There are videos below that show the consequences of those officials’ inaction.

In a nation that does not share such natural disaster information domestically, let alone internationally, the clips that leaked anyway prove official Chinese policy to either bomb or release some of the nation’s 90,000 dams when fear of collapse is imminent from deluges of rainfall.

China Focus highlighted the dam releases in their article titled When China’s Floodgates Open on its Rural Villagers,

Alex Schiller writes a must-read.

Chinese flood mitigation policy focuses on protecting cities at the expense of rural areas and farmland. In Shexian County, there was no government warning as flood waters overflowed a dam in the middle of the night and hit small towns in the area. A lack of proper forewarning and “ineffective rescue efforts” prompted citizens in Xingtai City to protest, though the demonstration was quelled by police. Local businesses lost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and merchandise. Farmers lost entire fields intended for harvest at the end of the season.

Members of the local community have openly said Beijing has a deliberate policy to prioritize the protection of high population/high economic output cities over poorer villages. One rural resident, in describing the damage to his family farm, says “Yes, the government has subsidies, but it can’t really help much.” Li Yao, a fellow at the East Asia Institute at the National University of Singapore, agrees with their sentiment, stating the flood-fighting strategy relies upon discharging water into farmland. Government actions and policies support this theory as well.

Several towns and villages across China’s provinces have been inundated since the crisis began. In Jiangxi Province, the town of Youdunjie and five other villages were submerged when Anhui Province, upstream of the town, discharged their dam. In another flooding emergency, a few days later, officials discharged water from a different dam. This action, which forced the evacuation of thousands of residents and flooded local farmlands, was meant to protect the more populated areas downstream.

The policy is further evident in government statements. Zhou Xuewen, Chief of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Office, said 11.4 million hectares of farmland produced zero grain due to the flooding. Another government body announced that Anhui Province turned over 2.22 million tons less grain than last year by this time.

Climate damage to China’s agriculture has only worsened in 2021 and 2022. The above article was published in 2020.

Beijing’s prioritization of its cities comes at a cost to its farmlands and could exacerbate food security concerns, as the country continues to edge closer to the government-delineated “red line” of 120 million hectares in arable land as the bare minimum to feed its population. By 2025, China will have increased reliance on food imports to shore up drops in domestic production due to urbanization, aging population, and other factors. Twenty-five percent of the population in rural regions will be over the age of 60, per the CASS Report, which presents one of China’s major agricultural challenges that will remain formidable without a reversal in urbanization goals. The report estimated 80 million rural residents will move to urban areas, representing a drop in 5% of the current rural population.

Like so many nations worldwide, exports to food-scarce countries have worsened over the pandemic, Ukraine, and rainfall pattern disruption by climate change.

Over 345 square miles of agricultural land were destroyed in this week’s flooding.

The below tweets show damage from the dam release.

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