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The Effects of Future Climate Change on the Growth of China and India

Updated on July 11, 2016

Climate change will increase average temperatures in India by around two degrees celsius more than in China. This will affect the scale on which crops can be grown, which will have a particularly negative effect on India, where a large proportion of the population is still rural, and earns their entire income from farming.

Farms in rural India.
Farms in rural India. | Source

Rising temperatures will also lead to an increase in diseases, which could again be particularly harmful to India's growth, as millions of people live in densely populated slums, such as Dharavi, near Mumbai, where there are already over 4,000 recorded cases per day of waterborne diseases.

Rising temperatures will cause drought, which will affect growth in both countries greatly. India is already experiencing a sustained drought, and the agriculture-based economy is already under strain, especially since the monsoon season is bringing less rain each year to irrigate crops.

In China, over 600 million people already live with water scarcity; drought could heavily impact the rural west of the country, the economy of which is based in agriculture, whilst rising sea-levels, caused by the melting of polar ice caps, could threaten to flood low-lying parts of the developed east coast, including Shanghai, unless large amounts of money are spent on flood defences.

Drought in China could negate the potential benefits of China's South to North Water Transfer Project, which takes water from rivers in the south to the north, where over half of the population lives, with only 15% of the fresh water.

Increased drought and diseases in both countries will dramatically increase their death rates, meaning a reduced workforce, and ultimately a reduced rate of economic growth.

With global food demand expected to increase by up to 100% by 2050, all countries will have to adapt by growing different crops, and possibly using genetically modified drought-resistant seeds, as some developing countries are already doing.

Drought in China will also increase the rate of desertification; the Gobi desert in the north already takes over an area the size of Manhattan every year, and reduced arid land will lead to a reduced food supply, and further starvation, which will slow down growth in any country unable to adapt.

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