An anomalous heat wave, coupled with an unprecedented drought, are ravaging China. Particularly affected by the extreme heat is the southwestern province of Sichuan, with the temperature reaching 43.9 degrees in Dazhou, where 5.4 million people live.
The extreme climatic situation has also created problems for energy production and frequent blackouts in southwest China, against a 25% increase in electricity demand. The two-month long heat wave is the longest ever recorded in the country, according to the National Climate Center, and the demand for electricity to run the air conditioners has put energy groups under pressure.
Sichuan, civil servants were asked to use air conditioning in offices at a temperature of no lower than 26 degrees and to avoid taking elevators whenever possible. The drought is putting a strain on electricity supplies in Sichuan, which relies on hydroelectricity to generate 80% of its energy capacity.
The capacity of the province's hydroelectric plants has halved since July, with electricity flow falling from around 900 million kWh to around 450 million kWh, and it is estimated that it will continue to decline at an average daily rate of 2%.
The epicenter of the crisis is Sichuan but the difficulties also extend to the nearby metropolis of Chongqing, an autonomous municipality of over 30 million inhabitants and of great production and technological importance.
Here, temperatures have soared as high as 45 degrees, with the Yangtze River reduced to less than half its usually powerful flow. The third longest river in the world has retreated to an all-time low.
China: extreme heat wave and drought devastate the country
Of particular concern is the production of food and the cultivation of wheat in the provinces of Sichuan and Anhui, both in southwestern China: the Chinese president himself, Xi Jinping, had already recommended last March, a few days after the invasion of Ukraine by Russian soldiers, in the face of uncertainties in supplies triggered by the outbreak of the war.
Four government departments have issued an alert, defining the heat wave that has hit much of the country a serious threat to agriculture, and urging local administrations to save water as much as possible, but also with the practice of cloud seeding, the thickening of clouds to cause rain by launching rockets that carry chemicals into the sky.
The practice was implemented in several provinces crossed by the Yangtze River, which in recent days has seen many dry stretches. The hardest part is being experienced in the heritage in Wuhan and Chongqing.