Tourists holding umbrellas visit the Bund during heat waves in Shanghai, China on May 29, 2023. Wang Gang / VCG via Getty Images
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For many parts of Asia, May has been a hot month, with records already being broken in places like China and India, even before the official start of summer.
Parts of eastern and southern China have been experiencing heat waves, which are expected to continue through June. The hot temperatures have been straining power grids as people are turning up air conditioners to combat the sweltering heat in large cities like Shenzhen and Shanghai, reported Reuters.
According to national meteorologists, most of the southern part of China is predicted to see temperatures higher than 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the next three days, with some areas baking under 104-degree heat.
“Extreme weather such as drought and floods may disrupt the food production order and bring more uncertainties to the supply of food and oil,” Sheng Xia, chief agricultural analyst for Citic Securities, wrote this week in a research report, as CNN reported.
Shenzhen reached 91.4 degrees Friday, with humidity exacerbating the heat, reported Reuters. Earlier in the week, areas of the city experienced power outages, but local media said it was less than 2,000 households out of more than 17 million residents.
“It’s hot, but there’s nothing to be done, we’ve got to make money for the family,” a bricklayer named Zhao told Reuters. “Our bosses haven’t been pushing other workers to return from lunch sooner, as several of us have been hospitalised for heatstroke.”
Shanghai, a city of more than 26 million people in the eastern part of the country, saw its hottest May temperature in nearly 150 years on Monday, while southern provinces have been experiencing almost continuous heat waves.
“[I]t’s just been week on week on week of these records being shattered,” said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climate scientist with the University of New South Wales, as Reuters reported. “It’s just relentless.”
The demand on China Southern Power Grid has been close to an all-time high, with electricity demand in Guangdong and other manufacturing centers in the south soaring to more than 200 million kilowatts.
The Yangtze river basin has seen the most severe drought since 1961 beginning last summer, which has damaged local grain harvests, reported The Guardian.
According to statistics from the country’s government, rainfall in the basin has decreased by almost 50 percent since last July.
Recently, convective storms producing heavy rain and hail have destroyed the country’s wheat harvest, Reuters reported.
“Once something’s wrong with agriculture, our bowls will be held in someone else’s hands and we’ll have to depend on others for food. How can we achieve modernization in that case?” Chinese leader Xi Jinping said in an article published in March, as reported by CNN.
Deputy Director of the National Climate Center Gao Rong said that in parts of southwest China, as well as in Shanghai and other parts of the Yangtze River Delta, temperatures this month would be one to two degrees hotter than the same time last year, Reuters reported.
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