Is the third world not only poor but are its inhabitants also negligent when it comes to cleaning up after themselves? Is poverty enough of an excuse when it comes to polluting your own environment? On a recent excursion to an island in Asia I was astounded to see how dirty, messy and crapped out were the streets of the city I walked around. Where was the civic pride and the basic human responsibility to clean up your shit? Education is obviously a big part of environmentalism and many people in these circumstances need to be taught how important it is.
Surviving and making a buck is not the only prerequisite for success; keeping pollution out of the atmosphere in all its forms is equally important. Many of the very poor in big Asian cities have migrated to the city from villages in the surrounding countryside; but they are so marginalised they must feel powerless to affect change. Small villages are usually much better maintained in comparison to the slums and ghettoes of huge metropolises. Gridlocked streets are a haze of carbon monoxide pollution. Gutters stink with human and animal refuse. Waterways are similarly clogged with rotting and floating garbage.
Trashing Asia: Pollution Damaging the Environment
People need to be educated and empowered so that they can take some civic pride in their city. Politicians must be held accountable for the areas they represent; which would combat some of the vast corruption that holds these nations back. Many of these countries are receiving huge amounts of international aid from wealthy western nations like the United States and Australia; but no one seems to be accountable. Self-interest among politicians and civil servants in these places ensures that positive change occurs at a snail’s pace.
Air pollution in Asia is rife and the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that more than two million people die from it every year worldwide. Particulate Matter (PM) is particularly hazardous to humans and it causes some nine percent of lung cancer deaths around the globe. Asia suffers from PM more than most continents, with Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal experiencing very high levels in their atmospheres. Air pollution in China is bad, as we know, but their PM levels are moderate in comparison to the Indian nations. South East Asian countries, likewise, have air pollution problems but their PM levels remain moderate. Education and empowerment are the only things that will improve the state of these nations in terms of their environmental health.