A flooded Yangtze River in 1999, by Paul Mannix via Flickr CC
China has struggled through a 50-year drought, creating water shortages that some blamed on the government's poor management of water resources rather than dry skies. But while this week's rains may have broken that drought, the devastation isn't over. Half a million people have been evacuated as 40 rivers flooded over, and over 100 people have already lost their lives in the rush of water. The Guardian reports that the worst affected province is Zhejiang, where parts of the Qiantang river have exceeded levels not seen since 1955. Meanwhile, the Zhuji district has had 88 villages flooeded and the Jiangxi province has evacuated over 122,400 residents from lowlands. Already at least 105 people have been killed in the flooding or in landslides, and another 65 are missing.
"Monitoring stations on 40 rivers have recorded water levels above the safety limit, including Asia's biggest waterway - the Yangtze - which is simultaneously suffering a flood downstream and a drought closer to its source," reports the Guardian.
Weather experts expect the rains to ease up by Sunday, but there will still be more rain through the southwest of the country until then. Plus, there is still a significant number of people to be evacuated and rescued from flooded homes.
It is all too easy to make a connection between the shifts in the global climate and the torrents of rain coming down in China after decades of dryness. For instance, China Daily writes, "Chen Zhenghong, senior engineer at the Meteorological Bureau of Central China's Hubei province, said the sharp shift between drought and flood in East and Central China was a result of global warming, Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday."
The talk of late among media outlets and experts alike is the extreme weather conditions seen more and more frequently across the globe. From the Joplin tornadoes to the drought-turned-flood in China, it seems to be the new normal for weather that we'll have to learn to cope with as the planet warms. For those who are doubtful that much of the odd weather we've witnessed especially in the last year is related to climate shifts, we'll leave off with this video remixing Bill McKibben's sarcastic op-ed:
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