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Adam Minter

Pollution's Impact on China’s Crops Is Worse Than Imagined

New data show a sharp decline in farm yields linked to fossil-fuel emissions. The country’s renewed use of low-cost coal will make the problem worse.

Coal plants and crops don’t go together.

Coal plants and crops don’t go together.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

China is turning back to low-cost coal to boost its ailing economy. It's an understandable reaction to the toll caused by Covid lockdowns. But it will come with a steep price for the environment and the health of its citizens.

It's also likely to worsen food insecurity in China just as the world is trying to fend off a global food crisis that's emerged as a result of the global pandemic and the war in Ukraine.