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.
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.