Living a nightmare in China’s city of sinkholes

China sink holes towns disappear

Jining, China (CNN) — Four months after he built a new, two-story brick house in his village in northern China’s Shandong Province, Xiao Guoqiang was alarmed to find a huge crack on the living room wall.

Having seen homes in neighboring villages sink, Xiao realized his long-held fears were coming true.

“I knew the day was coming, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon,” said Xiao, who has been forced to move from the land — on which four generations of his family have lived — as a consequence.

Xiao’s hometown, Jining, is one of China’s “coal cities,” whose mineral wealth helps light up the night skies of the world’s most energy-hungry country. The land here is honeycombed with coal mines, which can form massive sinkholes that leave thousands of homes uninhabitable every year.

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Global Threat to Food Supply as Water Wells Dry Up, Warns Top Environment Expert

Lester Brown says grain harvests are already shrinking as US, India and China come close to ‘peak water’

An Iraqi shepherd boy

Iraq is among the countries in the Middle East facing severe water shortages. Photograph: Ali al-Saadi/AFP

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Wells are drying up and underwater tables falling so fast in the Middle East and parts of India, China and the US that food supplies are seriously threatened, one of the world’s leading resource analysts has warned.

In a major new essay Lester Brown, head of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, claims that 18 countries, together containing half the world’s people, are now overpumping their underground water tables to the point – known as “peak water” – where they are not replenishing and where harvests are getting smaller each year.

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