Tackling drought

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Tackling drought

Various places around the world are suffering from serious drought due to global warming. The worst drought ever in 58 years in 11 southern China provinces is expected to cause severe damage to crops.

This also raises worries about a potential international food crisis. In Korea, the worst-ever drought in 80 years has hit the southern and Gangwon regions.

Precipitation fell to 40 percent of last year’s levels in mid-regions and 20 percent in most southern regions. Residents in the affected areas are now suffering severe water shortages.

Additionally, waterworks in Gangwon’s mountainous regions and fishing villages are not as developed as in urban areas. This makes the water shortage problem for residents in those regions much more serious.

Global warming has resulted in two extreme water-related problems. In general, precipitation has increased but there are serious disparities in the amount from season to season.

Because the Earth’s surface temperatures are rising, evaporation has increased, leading to frequent floods and downpours. There are also occasional severe droughts.

With the extensive cooling of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, typhoons occurred less frequently last year, leading to a decrease in precipitation in the summer. This has contributed to the winter droughts in Korea and China.

Seventy percent of the Korean Peninsula is mountainous. Since 2000, the average amount of precipitation has been 1,400 millimeters. This is more than the previously recorded figure of 1,245 millimeters, but due to the prevalence of mountainous regions, water flows down fast.

As a result, only 27 percent of total rainfall is utilized. That is why there are droughts in spite of greater overall rainfall.

Water is the basis of the nation’s economy, security and society. The government should come up with long-term, comprehensive policies to deal with water problems in the face of global warming.

The government should make it clear that the project to revitalize four major rivers in Korea has nothing to do with building grand canals, and then start implementing water-related policies.

Dams need to be built if necessary and at the same time waterworks need to be expanded to benefit farmers and fishers who are experiencing drought. The government should also listen to opinions from various sectors on its water policies.
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