Global warming worsens threat of locusts and rats The central government must increase spending to prevent plagues of locusts and rodents, which are more likely to occur due to global warming, a climate watchdog has warned. China has been hit hard in the past eight years by pest plagues, which are one of the biggest threats to grassland areas, according to the latest report by the China Meteorological Administration (CMA). He Yong , a scholar with the National Climate Centre under the CMA, said the situation in the grassland-rich west and northeast had worsened due to climate change and a lack of funding. 'With global warming, the rainfall in the country has decreased, with Xinjiang , Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang the worst-affected regions. Areas that suffered from dust and sandstorms are expanding, while grassland is declining. Plagues of insects and rodents are rampant,' Professor He said. 'The effects of pest control are not as good as expected. Despite the government spending a lot to curb outbreaks, it is far from enough.' More than 27 million hectares of grassland were affected by plagues of locusts and other insects last year, according to the report using Chinese Grassland Society statistics. Half the land has been damaged. Rats and mice last year plagued 37 million hectares of grassland, which resulted in the devastation of more than 20 million hectares, the report says. The outbreaks cause huge economic losses to the country, but the government is often reluctant to release detailed information about the events. According to Professor He, a full report based on the CMA's research findings will be presented to the State Council in March by the China Association for Science and Technology. 'We hope our report will raise awareness among top leaders and more effective measures will be adopted. We cannot change the climate, but we hope to see more money invested and technical measures taken to bring the situation under control,' he said. Pest control at the township level, almost paralysed by the lack of financial and technical support, was very worrying, said Professor He, who was pessimistic about more large outbreaks of locust and rat plagues. However, a pest control expert at the Ministry of Agriculture argued the situation was not as bad as illustrated by the report. Zhu Enlin said a lack of uniform standards in calculating damage caused by plagues made it difficult to believe the findings of the report. He said measures taken to control locust plagues before the insects developed wings had been effective in controlling the pests. 'There is certainly a trend that it is more difficult to curb the outbreaks, as rats, locusts and other insects cause a lot of damage every year. But plagues are not the main reason for the losses of grassland compared with the climate and the overuse of pasture,' he said.