Your Monday Briefing: Record Heat Disrupts China
A dried-up section of Poyang Lake, which is facing low water levels because of a regional drought in Lushan, China.Credit…Thomas Peter/Reuters
Record heat and drought in China
A record-setting drought and an 11-week heat wave are causing broad disruption in southwestern China, a region that depends on dams for more than three-quarters of its electricity generation.
Factories owned by Foxconn, Toyota and Volkswagen have curtailed production or closed for lack of power. Owners of electric cars are waiting overnight at charging stations. In Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, several neighborhoods went without electricity for more than 10 hours a day.
The Yangtze River has receded so much that many oceangoing ships can no longer reach upstream ports, forcing China to divert large numbers of trucks to carry their cargo. A single ship can require 500 or more trucks to move its cargo.
China’s extreme weather has potential implications for the world’s efforts to halt climate change. Beijing has sought to offset at least part of the lost hydropower from the drought by ramping up the use of coal-fired power plants. Customs data shows that the country’s imports of coal from Russia reached a new high last month.
Background: The heat wave has scorched China for more than two months. In Chongqing, a sprawling metropolis of around 20 million people, the temperature soared to 113 degrees last week, the first time such a high reading had been recorded in a Chinese city outside the western desert region of Xinjiang.
Deadly floods across Pakistan
Devastating floods have surged across Pakistan, overflowing riverbanks and bridges, inundating houses and fields and killing more than 100 people over the weekend, officials said late Saturday.
The floods, which have been driven by unusually heavy monsoon rains, have killed more than 1,000 people since mid-June, the country’s National Disaster Management Authority said.
Record flooding has overwhelmed spots along the Indus River, which runs the length of the country. Rainfall has been nearly three times the 30-year nationwide average, the disaster agency said. In Sindh Province, which borders the Arabian Sea to the south, rainfall is nearly five times the average.
Data: Nearly a million homes have been damaged since mid-June, the disaster management agency said. More than 33 million people have been affected by flooding this summer, the agency said, with close to 500,000 now living in relief camps.
Australia weighs Indigenous recognition
Australia has never signed a treaty with Aboriginal people, who are not recognized in the Australian Constitution. Now, a newly elected Labor government has started the process of repairing the nation’s open wound.
Last month, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese kick-started the process of holding a referendum to enshrine in the Constitution a body to advise the government on Indigenous issues, to be known as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Albanese has consulted with Aboriginal leaders, and on Saturday held an unusual news conference in Sydney with the former N.B.A. star Shaquille O’Neal.
Critics have seized on the fact that Albanese has not fully explained what the body would entail. He tried to answer the criticism on Saturday, saying that the body would ensure that Indigenous people were consulted on issues that affect them, but that it would not “usurp” Parliament.
Barriers: Some Indigenous people say that no matter the details, a Voice to Parliament would not be enough. The previous two conservative prime ministers opposed a referendum, and the current conservative political opposition has not yet said whether it will support the proposal.
THE LATEST NEWS
Two U.S. warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait yesterday, defying Chinese pressure.
Japan pledged $30 billion in aid to Africa and said it would push for an African seat on the U.N. Security Council, Al Jazeera reported.
A study found that the Black Summer bush fires in Australia damaged the ozone layer, ABC reported.
India demolished two unoccupied high-rise towers outside New Delhi after a 12-year court battle, The Associated Press reported.
War in Ukraine
Artillery strikes continued near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant during negotiations to allow international inspectors to visit.
Ukraine is weighing a risky offensive to break out of a battlefield stalemate with Russia.
U.S. and British officials said that the army expansion planned by President Vladimir Putin might not help Russia much.
Ukrainian forces have scored successes with improvised weapons.
Putin offered incentives to Ukrainians to move to Russia.
What Else Is Happening
NASA is going back to the moon. Here’s why.
An Ethiopian airstrike hit a kindergarten in the northern Tigray region, where fighting is spreading after a truce collapsed.
Fighting between the U.S.- and Iran-backed militias escalated in Syria.
Clashes between militias in Libya killed at least 32 people in the worst fighting in Tripoli in two years.
Teenagers in the U.S. are increasingly being prescribed multiple psychiatric drugs, many of them untested in adolescents.
Mansour Abbas, the first Arab politician to lead his party into an Israeli governing coalition, said he would do it again despite receiving criticism from all sides.
A Morning Read
Chi Kee Sawmill and Timber, which has been in business in Hong Kong since the 1940s, will soon make way for a vast development project that is part of China’s broader plan to bind Hong Kong more closely to the mainland. But it is still bringing new life to old wood.
ARTS AND IDEAS
As the Middle East and North Africa dry up, countries in the regions have embarked on a race to develop the chemicals and techniques they hope will enable them to squeeze raindrops out of clouds.
Morocco and Ethiopia have cloud-seeding programs — a technology that is 75 years old yet still unproven — as does Iran and Saudi Arabia. A half-dozen other Middle Eastern and North African countries are considering starting one. China has the most ambitious program in the world, which aims to either stimulate rain or halt hail across half the country.
The unquestioned regional leader is the United Arab Emirates. After 20 years of research and experimentation, the country runs its cloud-seeding program with near military protocols. Nine pilots rotate on standby, ready for meteorologists to spot a promising weather formation.
Israel, a pioneer in cloud seeding, halted its program in 2021 after 50 years because it seemed to yield at best only marginal gains in precipitation. But the leader of the U.A.E.’s program claims at least a 5 percent increase in rain annually — and almost certainly far more.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
This brothy Thai curry with silken tofu and herbs is wonderfully restorative.
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That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Whet
P.S. Azmat Khan, whose reporting was part of our Pulitzer Prize win this year for reporting on civilian casualties from airstrikes, is joining The Times.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on U.S. student loan forgiveness.
You can reach Whet and the team at [email protected].