Climate change

Grim warnings on pollution, sea levels

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 January, 2007, 12:00am

China has seen a catastrophic rise in relative sea levels due to overextraction of underground water, according to the State Oceanic Administration.

It also warned the marine environment has continued to deteriorate, with land-based pollution discharges hitting a new high last year.

Administration spokesman Li Chunxian warned that because land was subsiding due to the overuse of underground water, China's relative sea level had risen much faster than the global average in the past three years. This would cause many kinds of serious marine disasters and pose a long-term threat to coastal areas.

Quoting a study released yesterday, he said: 'Compared to a global average rise of 0.18cm every year, China's sea level rises at an annual rate of 0.25cm.'

The official said Guangdong, Shanghai and Tianjin would probably suffer the most from rising sea levels, which were expected to continue for the next decade.

Mr Li called it an 'irreversible marine disaster'. The construction boom in major coastal cities had contributed to the rise, the study showed.

Meanwhile, the administration warned that China's marine environment had worsened over the past year despite a multibillion-yuan government cleanup campaign.

Of the more than 600 outlets in coastal areas monitored by the administration, 81 per cent discharged untreated toxic chemicals, industrial waste and sewage into the sea, according to the annual marine environment report released yesterday.

'The marine environment near more than 60 per cent of the discharge outlets has been classified as appalling,' it said.

The Bohai Sea, the Yangtze River Delta and the coastal area around Guangxi recorded the worst pollution discharges last year.

The country discharged 31.7 billion tonnes of sewage into the Bohai, Yellow, East China and South China seas in 2005, up from 22.4 billion tonnes in the previous year.