The Climate Reality Project -- Beijing
What can change in a day? Everything. On September 14, the world will focus its attention on the truth about the climate crisis. For 24 hours, we will all live in reality. Pick a faraway place or a city near you. Make it yours for one day. We’re hitting every time zone — but only once. 7 p.m. in your time zone. Choose a location and get involved.
Rich with history stretching back centuries, Beijing is the political capital and cultural center of the People’s Republic of China. With nearly 20 million people living within the city limits, Beijing is also one of the world’s most populous cities. This isn’t too surprising since China is the world’s most populous nation, with more than 20% of the world’s population currently living in the country.
Unfortunately for China, the country only contains 7% of the world’s water resources. Because of climate change and population growth, two-thirds of the country already faces water shortages. Even more striking: By one estimate there may be as many as 30 million environmental refugees in China by 2020 as a result of water stress.
With warming temperatures and declining rainfall, water levels in Beijing’s primary reservoir are falling, and severe drought conditions in the northern parts of China are creating major challenges for the world’s largest wheat producer and consumer.
Perhaps the most dramatic effect of climate change in China has been the expansion of the Gobi Desert, which grew more than 20,000 square miles between 1994 and 1999 alone. Today, it has advanced to within 150 miles of Beijing.The lack of water in the northern region is in contrast to the southern region of China, where provinces have experienced a number of record weather events over the past few years. In 2007, the Guangdong Province in southern China experienced record rainfall, and in 2008, southern provinces experienced three weeks of unusual snowfall and icing, which affected 100 million people and caused 60 deaths. It is not over. The southern provinces are projected to see more extreme flooding and other weather events throughout the next century.