China has a water problem. Specifically, it does not have enough of it. After months of drought, the lack of water in China could have global impacts.
The worst conditions have been recorded in the country’s southern region. Hydroelectric power provides the vast majority of electricity to millions of people and thousands of manufacturing plants.
Receding water in the Yangtze River isn’t just revealing centuries old statues–it’s also hampering the movement of goods because large ships can’t sail in shallow water.
Some reservoirs that supply hydroelectric power stations are also dry. Shopping malls are operating on reduced hours to conserve power. Manufacturing plants are also being idled so the grid has enough power to run people’s air conditioning units at home.
China could produce more electricity through coal or nuclear power plants, but those processes still require water.
Most farms in China are smaller, just a few acres, which means most farmers can’t afford things like drip irrigation systems to conserve water. Thousands of acres of crops have already been deemed total losses this year.
China is a global supplier of food, construction materials, electronic components, solar panels, and more. If the drought in China continues, the global fallout could be disastrous. Some experts said the supply chain issues the world faced during the COVID-19 pandemic will be tame by comparison.
To combat the deepening drought, China is firing silver iodide into clouds in an effort to induce rain. It’s a process known as “cloud-seeding.”
Crews are also digging trenches to keep water flowing from Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, to a key rice-growing region.
China’s president, Xi Jinping, wants to give himself another five years in office. He’ll be in a better position to do that if his people aren’t baking in the heat or starving from lack of food. At least five of China’s 17 dynasties were brought down by drought-induced famines.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.