The Environment and Asian-Pacific, Particularly East Asia, Economic Development
While rapid economic growth in the Asian-Pacific region is a potential means for low-income countries in this region to improve their lot, it raises international dilemmas and may be unsustainable. Political bias exists in favour of Asian economic growth both in Asia and abroad even at considerable expense to the environment. The theoretical underpinnings of the bias are discussed. A number of the environmental issues involving water, air and soils in Asia are considered, particularly the global greenhouse problem arising from China's use of fossil fuels. Conservation of living resources and biodiversity is difficult given east Asia's rapid economic growth and is made more difficult by the fact that many areas designated for nature protection are inhabited by villagers or are subject to •encroachment by migrating groups. Furthermore, in• low income countries, •nature protection is often considered to be a luxury and/or there is a perception that more distant frontiers are more suitable for nature conservation. It is difficult to provide those inhabiting protected areas with alternative n1eans of livelihood to their utilisation of the natural area. Tourism development is a possibility but it has limitations. In fact, tourism development in the Asia-Pacific is a source of several environmental problems. Increased urbanisation is another environmental feature of Asia and may have positive long term environmental impact by reducing the rate of •growth of population. With economic growth, interregional and transboundary conflicts will intensify in Asia. It. seems possible that both market mechanism and political ones will be inadequate to deal with Asia's growing environmental problems. The article is critical of the view that economic growth to the neglect of the environment is acceptable even in low income countries and suggests that given the public• good/bad dimensions of Asia development that more assistance from high income countries in relation to environmental conservation in Asia's less developed countries is justified.
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