The Great Wail of China
Millions of people in northern China can look ahead to water shortages this summer with the Yellow River at a 50-year low, and the nation as a whole is expected to face a shortfall of 53 trillion gallons of water by 2030 — more than the total amount the nation now uses in a year. That’s just one nugget of gloomy news from an annual environmental report released by the Chinese government last week; in this rapidly industrializing nation with 1.3 billion citizens, there are plenty more problems to cope with. More than half of the watersheds feeding China’s seven main rivers are polluted with industrial, agricultural, and household waste, the report noted. Though the government plans to spend $32 billion on sewage treatment plants for cities over the next few years, most rural sewage will remain untreated. And though some progress has been made in battling China’s infamous air pollution, two-thirds of the nation’s cities are still considered polluted by government standards.