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How Taiwan Is Different From America

By: inoljt,

Taiwan is one of the main success stories of East Asia; from a country of mostly impoverished farmers, it has become a First World country with living standards comparable to America.

This is something which I actually asked of a Taiwanese friend. Compared to America, how is Taiwan’s standard of life? Said person answered that Taiwan’s pretty similar to the United States. The buildings look the same, the country is pretty much the same as America.

More below.

There was something surprising, however, about her answer. There’s one thing which America generally does better than Taiwan, she said. America is much cleaner than Taiwan. Environmental degradation is worse in Taiwan. The air is cleaner in America; the water is clearer.

This surprised me, especially given that environmental protection is not very high on most American’s list of things-to-do. I have never really thought of Taiwan as an especially dirty or polluted country.

But it does make sense. Poorer countries generally have much less environmental protection than rich countries. Until recently, Taiwan was poor and home to a lot of factories. That still has apparently left a mark. It’s an interesting difference which I had never thought about.

1 comment

  1. bfitzinAR

    immediate threat of starvation to worry about longer term threats brought about by pollution and other environmental degradation.  Death at 10 from lack of food or shelter or both trumps death at 40 from cancer.  Show them/help them to have clean air and water AND not just a full belly but a full belly and a full pantry and they will be delighted to be supporters of a healthy environment.  That’s still the mindset in certain areas of TX, where I grew up, and AR, where I currently live and serve as an elected official in county government – even though we mostly haven’t had to deal with the “death at 10” situation since the 1930s.  They only have clean air and water because federal regulations require it and mostly tax dollars pay for it.

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