China’s catastrophic summer shows its climate adaptation plans still have a long way to go.
China just finished one of its most disastrous summers on record, with record-breaking heat, drought, and wildfires leading to water shortages even into the fall. More than 900 million people — or about 64 percent of China’s population — faced brutal heat waves alone, highlighting how much further the nation has to go to protect itself against worsening climate-related disasters.
As weather historian Maximiliano Herrera told New Scientistmagazine last month while the heat waves were ongoing, “There is nothing in world climatic history which is even minimally comparable to what is happening in China.” In at least 17 provinces, more than 240 cities saw temperatures exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit. (Normally, a metropolis like Chongqing, at the center of this heat wave in southwestern China, only sees temperatures as high as 92°F.) China’s largest river and freshwater lake mostly dried up, reaching record-low water levels due to drought, all while wildfires raged. As in the United States, while some places baked, others flooded.