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Global warming benefits to Tibet: Chinese official

August 21, 2009

AFP
August 19, 2009

BEIJING -- Global warming could prove devastating
for the Tibetan plateau, the world's
third-largest store of ice, but it helps farming
and tourism, Chinese state media said Tuesday, citing a leading expert.

Qin Dahe, the former head of the China
Meteorological Administration, made the comment
in an otherwise gloomy assessment of the impact
that rising temperatures will have on Tibet,
according to the China Daily newspaper.

"Warming is good for agriculture and tourism. It
has increased the growing season of crops," said
Qin, now a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China is banking on tourism to help fund
development in Tibet, one of its poorest regions,
hoping that a railway to the region's capital Lhasa will boost visitor numbers.

 From January to July this year, more than 2.7
million tourists visited Tibet, nearly triple the
number in the same period of 2008, the Tibet Daily said recently.

While agriculture and tourism stand to benefit,
Qin underlined a series of negative consequences
that global warming will have in Tibet and surrounding areas.

Temperatures are rising four times faster than
elsewhere in China, and the Tibetan glaciers are
retreating at a higher speed than in any other
part of the world, he told the paper.

"In the short term, this will cause lakes to
expand and bring floods and mudflows," Qin told the paper.

"In the long run, the glaciers are vital
lifelines for Asian rivers, including the Indus
and the Ganges. Once they vanish, water supplies
in those regions will be in peril."
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