28,000 rivers go missing in China's lastest waterway survey... Oops?!
Until recently, China's government estimated that there were over 50,000 rivers and waterways with catchment areas of at least 100 square kilometers. But after sending 800,000 surveyors around China for three years to do the first ever first national census of water, the actual number of rivers that meet that size criteria is lower. Much lower. The revised number is less than half the old one, with only 22,909 rivers and waterways having catchment areas of at least 100 sq km.
Thankfully, part of the problem was that the previous estimates were wrong. But that doesn't explain everything. Climate change, soil loss, and water loss are also to blame, according to Huang He, the deputy director of the group in charge of the census. Deforestation and inefficient agricultural irrigation techniques are no doubt also big contributors to the problem.
The country's rapid economic development and growing population have put enormous strain on water resources, making water use increase more than fivefold since 1949 according to an OECD study. The country needs a serious rethink of how it protects its natural resources, because while it's possible to make a short-term profit by destroying nature, you always end up paying for it dearly in the long-term...