Rice and wheat take a lot of water to grow and no one eats more than China. That also means no one contributes more to global warming from irrigation than China - a whopping 30 million tons of CO2 per year just from the pumping systems China uses.
Like everywhere, water usage has gone up in China with the surge in population. Groundwater used for crop irrigation in China has grown from 10 billion cubic meters in 1950 to more than 100 billion today. The pumping systems which support this immense irrigation network annually produce 33.1 MtCO2e (33.1 mega tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent), claims a new study.
How do they know? You can't even count the people in China because by the time you finish counting, the number has changed a lot so counting water is just as hard. They used survey data collected from 366 villages in 11 provinces and then up-scaled those results to calculate the emissions created by groundwater pumping across China's remaining 20 provinces.
China is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, with around 17 percent of emissions coming from agriculture. Irrigated agriculture in China produces 70 per cent of the country's grain and the pollution is caused by the huge amount of energy needed to pump water from underground – in some areas from an average depth of 70 meters.
The results account for more than 0.5 per cent of China's total CO2 emissions - which doesn't sound like much but in context that is the total amount of CO2 all of New Zealand emits in one year.
Credit: Jinxia Wang, Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP)
With a growing population, climate change and socio-economic transition, the report predicts the problem will worsen unless action is taken to improve China's water management policies.
Prof Jinxia Wang of the Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy said, "Improved access to pumping technology, cheap energy and the ability to directly control water availability has led to a massive expansion of groundwater pumping across large parts of Asia, particularly in China and India. The small scale of pump operations makes regulation and control of use extremely difficult."
Published in Environmental Research Letters.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Drug Prevents Key Age-related Brain Change In Rats
- A New Alternative To Sodium: Fish Sauce
- Top Secret: On Confidentiality On Scientific Issues, Across The Ring And Across The Bedroom
- Would New Planet X Clear Its Orbit? - And Any Better Name Than "Planet Nine"?
- Smoking Bans Reduce Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease In Non-Smokers
- Stop Using BMI To Determine Health
- Why Rest Is Critical After A Concussion
- "So there is no why like Bob Fletcher or as some people say you can already see it on Russian news..."
- "Hi Joe, yes the thing is - all that is fine, it's logical from your point of view. And whatever..."
- " Like I asked David Brin: Who are the ones who are actually insane? Certainly it is NOT the skeptics..."
- "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVyV4L072jY So then what is going on in this video? Also what is..."
- "Just curious, When was the last time you (the author) generated a mathematical model? On what?..."
- Florida Declares Zika Virus State of Emergency
- Indonesia’s Many Human Physical Deformities: A Closer Look
- Spinal ‘Column’: Love for Hunchback Dog, Breakthrough for 8-Yr-Old Girl
- BMI is Bologna
- Energy Drinks: The Dose Makes the Poison
- California’s Prop 65: Bad For Public Acceptance Of Science, About To Get Worse
- Cambridge researcher develops smartphone app to map Swiss-German dialects
- Studies link healthy workforces to positive stock market performance
- Pioneering discovery leads to potential preventive treatment for sudden cardiac death
- Online shopping might not be as green as we thought
- Gene family turns cancer cells into aggressive stem cells that keep growing