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China’s Summer of Floods is a Preview of Climate Disasters to Come

China’s Summer of Floods is a Preview of Climate Disasters to Come

As the global temperature rises, China will be hit by more frequent severe floods. Can the country adapt in time?

In early July, high school seniors across China were scheduled to sit for the gaokao, the grueling two-day national exam that determines their college fate. But when torrential rain suddenly hit Anhui province's Shexian county, streets turned into rivers, preventing local students from reaching their testing sites.

Shop owners were also hit by the deluge. Wu Yongqiang told China One Day, a Tencent Media Chinese-languge blog, that he arrived at his tea shop to find his loose-leaf varieties steeping in muddy flood water—he estimated that 90 percent of his merchandise was ruined.

Similar scenes of devastation have played out across China, particularly in the central Yangtze River Basin, over the last two months as the summer monsoon has unleashed record rains and floods. Millions of lives have been upended this summer, but climate experts warn that China will face more frequent severe floods as the global temperature rises, driving up the number of intense rainstorms in the country.

China shares this fate with many nations: 70 percent of the world's population is expected to experience greatly increased river flooding if global warming goes unchecked. This summer alone, flooding along the Brahmaputra river has displaced about 3 million people in India, and one quarter of Bangladesh is underwater. Lower-income countries like India will have a higher mortality rate from flooding compared to China, according to a 2018 study, but China will also be greatly impacted.
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