News of the WeekFood Security

Water Shortages Loom as Northern China's Aquifers Are Sucked Dry

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Science  18 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5985, pp. 1462-1463
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5985.1462-a

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Of all China's environmental woes, the biggest threat to livelihoods and food security may be looming water shortages. China's freshwater resources amount to 2220 cubic meters per person, just a quarter of the world average. For years, the central government focused on declining river flows and rising pollution, largely ignoring what has now become an acute problem: vanishing groundwater. The outlook is especially dire on the North China Plain, an area encompassing six provinces and the Beijing and Tianjin metropolitan areas.

  • Li Jiao is a writer in Beijing.