Green Shoots Under Soot-Stained Skies
This introductory chapter assesses the effects of Asia’s economic growth on the natural environment. In 1981, three out of four people in East Asia lived in extreme poverty; by 2008, it was only one out of seven. The economies of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, and Vietnam have grown at unusually high rates. Often termed the “Asian miracle,” this growth is the product of hard work, increased education, and a pro-market bias reinforced by supportive government policies and a liberal global trade environment. But this growth has led to pollution, resource scarcity, and environmental woes. China is already the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), followed by Indonesia and India. In 2010, air pollution in China alone contributed to more than 1.2 million premature deaths; the world’s ten most populated cities are in the region. Also, the water in many Asian rivers is too toxic even to touch.
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