China’s Sea Level Change

by Xiaoshi Zhu

As climate change becomes more dramatic in recent years, the rising sea level has begun to threaten more countries in the world. Among these regions, China has the largest population that will be affected by the likely inundation—a staggering 85 million people. In his article China’s Sea Change published in December 2015 on The Globe and Mail, Nathan VanderKlippe talks about how serious the problem has become and the actions that the Chinese government has taken to improve the bad situation.

The article explains that Guangzhou, one of the fastest-developing cities in China sitting on the rich Pearl River Delta, will have the largest loss among major cities in the world, according to the World Bank. This is largely attributed to being built on the risky Delta that lies very close to the sea level, leaving the city vulnerable when the water comes up. Guangzhou has been suffering from serious economic losses due to the rising sea level and the situation will only get worse in the future.

To deal with the challenges it faces, the government has greatly changed its attitude from non-acceptance to actively seeking solutions. Last year, Beijing and Washington made a deal in which China promised to largely cut its emissions. China also invested $4.1 billion to support developing countries in dealing with global-warming problems. Additionally, China has been trying to transform its economic and energy structure to cope with the climate change. For example, the country is now the biggest manufacturer and consumer of wind and solar energy. Additionally, much focus has been put on technology, education and propaganda, in order to facilitate its transition to an eco-friendly society.

Like other cities that have been affected by the rising sea level, Guangzhou faces a severe saltwater problem, which kills crops and contaminates water. To tackle it, people have built huge dikes to keep the water away. However, people worry that once the dikes fail, the consequence will be terrifyingly destructive. In a tourist attraction famous for its bright yellow flowers, the growers are forced to use tap water in the winter because the local rivers are now too saline. The encroaching water has also eaten up a small beach near the Pleasant Banyan Bay. The locals worry that if the government does not do something, most of the beautiful coastline will soon become rocks and concrete.


Nathan VanderKlippe, 2015. China’s Sea Change. The Globe and Mail.



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