Thursday, January 31, 2008

China's winter freeze affects food prices

Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers remain stuck at airports and stations across China amid worsening winter weather. Many roads too remain blocked despite the best efforts of authorities to clear routes. For the millions that are attempting to make their way home to their families it is the only chance many get after a year of working away from their loved ones. The migrant workers go to where employment is available and they can work seven days a week for as little as $4 per day. The disappointment in not being to make the journey home will be too much to bear for those who have queued for days in freezing temperatures. Although there has been some relief as trains begin to take people home, the government has appealed to the population to cancel their travel plans [CNN]. But it is a difficult decision for those who will have to wait another year before they can return home. The more well off Chinese residents may have a better chance of making the journey home as they are able to afford the air fares. But others can only afford the long train or bus journey. And with more snow forecast the prospects do not look good for the millions trying to make it home for the Lunar New Year celebrations. Whether they make it home or not, all will face higher food prices [BBC]. Communist Party official Chen Xiwen warned of a serious impact on crop production in the south of the country saying "The impact on fresh vegetables and on fruit in some places has been catastrophic".

Heavy snow is also affecting parts of the United States and Israel also saw an extremely unusual sight after snow covered much of Jerusalem [BBC]. Britain has also been hit by bad weather, but most of the snow has been confined to the north of the country [BBC]. Even Baghdad saw snowfall earlier this month, a phenomena not seen in over 50 years [BBC]. The wild and cold weather sweeping the globe [BBC] will no doubt be claimed by environmentalist as being another sign of climate change. But its far from the global warming that has been predicted; more of a global freeze!

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