Clearing the air

China’s celebration of its New Year has, for the moment at least, taken off attention from the dire straits of the air quality that exists in its major cities. With the concentration of  particulate matter in the air reaching up to ten times the maximum permissible level prescribed by the WHO, China is home to 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world.

With cities in India and other developing countries closely following suit, isn’t it time we took a step back and examined where we are going wrong? Does the price of becoming a developed country have to be the fact that an entire country breathes air that is, at times, more harmful than that at an airport smoking lounge?

The consumption patterns of roughly 15% of the world’s total population has got us to the mess we are in today. So how can getting an additional 30% of the world’s population to consume as much really be the solution?

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