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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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China Confronts Looming Water Shortages
11 February 2011 11:28 am
BEIJING—The Chinese government plans to spend a whopping $600 billion (4 trillion renminbi) over the next 10 years on measures to ensure adequate water supplies for the country. But scientists who have glimpsed the details of the grand effort worry that it may end up harming wetlands and may be ineffective, as several ministries that handle water issues work poorly together.
Much of northern China is in the grips of a months-long drought that could threaten yields of wheat and other crops this spring. Exacerbating the problem are a rapidly retreating groundwater table in the north (Science, 18 June 2010, p. 1462) and pollution of major waterways. Seeking a long-term solution, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council announced on 29 January the massive investment, which aims to achieve sustainable water use by controlling total water consumption, improving irrigation efficiency, and restricting groundwater pumping, among other measures.
Scientists welcome the initiative. "It's an important opportunity for China's water conservation," says Liu Changming, a hydrologist at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences here. But because the plan emphasizes provision of water for human activity, some scientists worry that it may end up diverting water from wetlands and other fragile ecosystems. To prevent that from occurring, the government should fund "a systemic study that will quantify the needs of water resources for ecosystems in specific places and a well-developed regulation to assure ecological water use," says Peng Gong, an ecologist at Tsinghua University here and the University of California, Berkeley.
The initiative's success may also require creating new regulations to encourage data sharing across agencies. The establishment of interagency institutes might be one solution, says Gong, who adds that it will be difficult to implement the holistic policy laid out in the water initiative without breaking down bureaucratic barriers.