Currently, the South China Pearl River Delta is a growing economic center, with its rivers for transportation and surrounding land for industries and markets. But a generation ago, this growing economic center was farmland, popular in growing rice as the proximity to water was perfect for field flooding. As the land has changed, the waters have not, leading to a continuation of flooding in the South China Pearl River Delta. In May 2014 due to flooding from downpour, the city of Dongguan faced the flooding of 100 factories and shops. The city of Guangzhou had repairs of $100 million, with 53 square miles of farmland ruined, thousands of homes destroyed, and 80 helicopters and boats sent to help rescue residents. May 2014 was only one of the flooding events which have occurred.
These cities were built without a concern of its topography and environmental impact, holding 42 million residents and its growing development causing sinking land. Canals and waterway which once were created to help drain these farmland towns were paved over. Climate change impacts from the pollution of coal-powered factories, cars, and steel factories, worsen the flooding and are creating urban heat islands. These urban heat islands are causing pandemics, like dengue fever which spread to 47,000 people in Guangzhou in 2014. These growing cities have not only replaced farmland, but are destructed wetlands and mangroves. As The New York Times writer Michael Kimmelman states, "Mangroves provide a natural buffer from the sea, shielding the coastline, reducing the impact of waves and rising water, filtering out salt that can infiltrate freshwater reserves, absorbing exceptional quantities of carbon and lowering ambient temperatures". Yet, though they are important to the environment and helpful to the people, 70% of mangroves are gone, with 6,700 acres more to go within the next decade. To make matters worse, the city of Shenzhen is planning to have a 21 square mile landfill along the coast, calling for disaster with the rising water levels. Chen Tegu, a professor in Guangzhou with the State Oceanic Administration predicts the South China Sea by rise by a foot and a half by the end of the century. Disasters of increased salt water, droughts, and worsening air pollution are also to follow. The World Banks estimates damage cost of coastal cities worldwide due to rising sea levels to be a trillion dollars. China currently is losing about 1.4% of its GDP due to climate change.
This article is important as China needs to look into a new perspective--environmental issues. China needs to look into the impacts its industrialization is causing to the environment and its people. It also needs to grow in renewable energy, as it currently the leading user in coal energy.