Environmental group Greenpeace says global warming is threatening the main source of China's Yellow River and causing serious damage to the environment and people's livelihoods. The group says carbon-dioxide emissions must be reduced or the river and the livelihoods of people who rely on it will be at risk.
A study commissioned by Greenpeace and produced by the Chinese Academy of Sciences says rising temperatures in the Tibetan Plateau are melting glaciers in the region, which are the main source of water for the Yellow River.
The study says that in the past 30 years, 17 percent of glaciers in the region have melted and the rate of melting ice is 10 times faster than it has been in the last 300 years.
Greenpeace says global warming also is melting permafrost in the region, draining lakes, turning grasslands into deserts, and destroying the river basin's capacity to hold water.
Li Mo Xuan is a works on climate change and renewable energy campaigns for Greenpeace in China. She says the degradation to the source of the Yellow River has turned people in the region into "environmental refugees" and if left unchecked it could destroy the Yellow River completely.
"If this trend of getting warmer and dryer at the Yellow River source should continue, in the future, climate change threatens to cut off the lifeblood of China's mother river right at the source," she said.
The Yellow River is one of China's largest and it provides water for domestic, agricultural and industrial use for thousands of communities within its reach. It runs more than 5,000 kilometers through central China before emptying into the ocean.
Greenpeace says worldwide that so-called greenhouse gas emissions cause rising temperatures and must be reduced or the Yellow River, and the livelihoods of the 120 million people who rely on it for domestic, agricultural, and industrial use, will be at risk.
The environmental organization says industrialized nations are to blame for most greenhouse-gas emissions and therefore should lead the fight against global warming. Greenpeace says China's environmental protection efforts are moving in the right direction, but it would like to see the efforts stepped up.
In addition to the problems from melting glaciers, the Yellow River also suffers from massive overuse and pollution.