It is well known that air pollution is harmful to human health. What is much less known is how it specifically affects people over the long term. China’s Huai River policy, which dispensed free coal to northern China for winter heating, has inadvertently revealed to us that air pollution literally shaves years off our lives. But China has made considerable progress in confronting this pollution.
Many of the earliest of the great civilizations on Earth were centered on life-giving rivers, such as the Yangtze and the Euphrates, the Nile and the Indus. Rivers remain crucial to modern societies, but pollution is choking the life out of them. For humanity’s sake, governments must act to counter this. The good news is that they already have the tools.
Having pursued growth at all costs for decades, the world now faces widespread environmental degradation. In Japan, this is compounded by a demographic crisis driven by a shrinking population. Contrary to conventional understanding, this may actually present an opportunity for the country to work toward a more sustainable future.
China’s growing appetite for seafood has led to fundamental changes in the global fishing industry, with ramifications for regional security. With every step it takes in fishing policy, the Chinese government must balance its need for food security with environmental and diplomatic concerns.
Businesses also incur massive human and economic costs during natural disasters. They can reduce these costs by diversifying geographically and technologically.
Last month, the first session of China's 13th National People's Congress enacted a much discussed constitutional change, opening up a path for Xi Jinping to be president for life. Beyond this spectacular measure, promotions and appointments indicate the direction of the winds for China's foreign partners and competitors.
Air conditioning has become an inherent part of life in the tropical heat of Southeast Asia. This incurs environmental costs and burdens low-income families with high energy bills. Energy consumption could be reduced, and societal wellbeing improved by cultivating microclimate diversity, with adapted architectural design involving passive cooling and natural shading.
Extensive and intensive agriculture is being questioned in various parts of the world for its environmental and social costs. But in China, a series of food safety scandals have led the Chinese dairy industry to move towards large integrated farms run by a handful of mega-producers.
Disaster-prone Asian countries are well aware of the urgent need to set up disaster management strategies. Siloed bureaucratic processes only hinder these efforts, as resilience comes from better engagement of local communities and the exploration of multiple sources of knowledge.