It no longer matters whether you believe global warming is caused by man, or “just God hugging us closer.” Because Chicken Little was right, Shanghai is sinking.
Reuters reports that Shanghai is considered among the world’s most vulnerable urban areas to a rise in sea levels, all thanks to melting polar ice caps, the prevalent use of land subsistence in China’s coastal cities and heavy construction of skyscrapers.
According to Wang Pingxian, professor of ocean geology at Tongji University in Shanghai:
Its location on a low-lying alluvial plain near the mouth of Asia’s longest river, the Yangtze, had already left it prone, … Sinking ground levels have long been a headache for Shanghai, although the culprit has traditionally been the pumping of ground water to support its rapid growth and industrialization.
“(Land subsidence) is more serious in areas where groundwater is heavily used, or highrise density is high,” said Xu Shiyuan, a professor of geology at East China Normal University.
While the city moves to stop the ground from being pulled down as ground water is sucked out, researchers now worry that the ground is being pushed down as masses of skyscrapers are plopped down across the urban landscape.
There are about 10,000 buildings with more than 10 floors in Shanghai, of which 80 percent have been built in the past 10 years, according to Emporis, one of the world’s leading providers of building information.
Get that sinking feeling when you’re strolling along the Bund? The dyke along Shanghai’s riverfront Bund, which protects a mile of historic granite buildings from the Huangpu River, has been raised three times — by nearly 2 meters (about 7 feet) — over the past four decades. Since Shanghai first drilled a deep well in the Bund in 1860, ground water has forced the city to sink at an average of 4 centimetres a year.
Clearly in this case, “drill, baby, drill” isn’t going to solve the problem.
Photo by w1ll14m09