China estimate of the day

More than half of the rivers previously thought to exist in China appear to be missing, according to the 800,000 surveyors who compiled the first national water census, leaving Beijing fumbling to explain the cause.

Only 22,909 rivers covering an area of 100sq km were located by surveyors, compared with the more than 50,000 in the 1990s, a three-year study by the Ministry of Water Resources and the National Bureau of Statistics found.

Officials blame the apparent loss on climate change, arguing that it has caused waterways to vanish, and on mistakes by earlier cartographers. But environmental experts say the disappearance of the rivers is a real and direct manifestation of headlong, ill-conceived development, where projects are often imposed without public consultation.

Here is more, via @DavidGrann.


Well, it sounds like China doesn't have to worry about implementing any worthless government regulations concerning protecting wetlands. Just another example of how an over-regulated society like the U.S. is destined for the ash heap of history compared to the vigorous market oriented Chinese.

Or not, if one actually cares about drinking water.

Call it a case study in contrasts.

And for anyone interested in how America looked in various regions before the EPA existed, this is an interesting link - And do keep in mind, that the America of 1973 is still a heaven on earth compared to today's China.

Umm...That's 40 surveyors per river.

Or 8000 surveyors per square kilometer of river!

Or assuming an average river is 25 metres wide that's 200 surveyors every kilometer of river bank.

Does that make any sense?

Yes - a surveyor looking for water would be testing groundwater levels too.

If you're head of the Ministry of Rivers, you can hire more friends and family as "surveyors" if you have more rivers. Unfortunately, some of these people seem to have been actual surveyors. How the heck did that happen?

David is right, you aren't just looking for rivers, the is a general hydrographic survey, it takes a huge number of man hours, in the US west we have only done this piecemeal for two centuries, and we still find mistakes.

A lot of the missing rivers could be older survey errors, defining a "river" as something different from a watershed is tricky and standards change, also of the vast number of old surveys their are a lot of mythical artifacts. I have found more than a few myself.

Even the USSR didn't lose whole rivers.

The did manage to lose at least one sea -

This 'story' doesn't pass the common-sense test.

Soviet & Chinese governments are notorious for falsifying official maps, statistics, records, history, photos, etc. -- for political and perceived military-security reasons.

The base assumption should automatically be that the alleged 1990's geographical "records" are incorrect -- and NOT that there's been some genuine, huge geographical change in Chinese rivers.

Motive? What'd overestimating rivers get them in 1990?

More employees so they could hire their friends and cousins.

We could spend years speculating, and probably still miss a lot of actual explanations. Such is the byzantine nature of Communist bureaucracy.

Oh Global Warming, is there anything you can't do? First you made it warm, then you made it cold.Then you made it stay the same temperature for a decade. Now you're stealing rivers? You rascal you. Next you'll be thieving the pies from Mrs. Badcrumble's kitchen window!

There's one thing global warming cannot do: be falsified.

Another [related] China estimate of the day, and explanation of China's recent announcements about a carbon tax:

"My informant told me that his organisation had been given a contract by the World Bank to figure out how much food production his country will lose when the average global temperature has risen by 2 degrees C (3.5 degrees F). (On current trends, that will probably happen around 25 years from now.) ... China ... would lose a terrifying 38 percent of its food production at +2 degrees C. ... If the Chinese regime thinks that is what awaits it down the road, no wonder it is thinking of bringing in a carbon tax."

Source :

" China … would lose a terrifying 38 percent of its food production at +2 degrees C (3.5 degrees F)"

I have some doubt of that for two reasons, first it seems unlikely that a change of average World Wide temperatures from 57.5 to 61.0 F would cause a loss of 38% of the existing food production. Granted, China will have a slightly different average temperature, but not significantly different than the average. And secondly, +2 C is +3.6 degrees F not 3.5 and I'm somewhat hesitant to trust a source that can't perform basic math.

That looks like only one reason to me, since the first is not a reason at all, but just restates your doubt.

Maybe you should spend more time on arithmetic yourself.

I would be quite willing to wager you some amount of money, that China's food production does not drop 3.8% from present yield by the time global average temperatures have risen 0.2 Deg C? And/or a 38% drop by the time temperatures have risen 2 Deg C?

Assuming we live long enough to see a 2 Deg rise, of course.

It is quite possible that both the 2 deg and 3.5 deg are rounding from more precise numbers that have the correct C/F relationship. It is easy for this to happen.

Yeah, I'm sure "climate change" wiped out 30,000 Chinese rivers in twenty years.

Even the NYT would have trouble printing that.

I took them. And I'm not giving them back.

You know, just in case anyone is using them as an IV...

i personally know the disappearances of a few rivers, although very small ones. for example with one, when i was little the water was clean and there's fishes in it, the next time i visited it, there were more people living nearby, water became dirty. the last time i was there, lots of people, the former river bed turned into a huge dumping ground, no water at all. my friends told me similar stories in other parts of rural china.

I don't know why people are blaming global warming.

There's another obvious suspect: Carmen Sandiego

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