Asians can’t have it all

Asian environmentalism pioneer Chandran Nair says Western consumerism in the developing East will spark irreversible climate impacts. His new book Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet warns Asians that they’ll have to settle for less. That’s a silver bullet into the heart of notion of global economic rebalancing, which says Asians need to consume more Western exports to ensure long term growth and stability.

My review of Consumptionomics applauds Nair for adding some welcome common sense to the climate change debate, savaging silly ideas on all sides. He derides the notion that markets can deal with environmental destruction largely caused by market failure. As the founder of corporate environmental consultant ERM, Nair is well placed to debunk this argument against government action to regulate resource exploitation.

Nair also gores a sacred cow of the environmental movement and the UN known as climate justice – developing countries must have the same right to pollute as the developed countries had. That’s sounds fair but it’s deadly for the planet, my Asia Times book review notes.

The solutions proposed in Consumptionomics may not live up to these standards, perhaps proving that no book can have it all, either. But Nair is a voice of reason in a discussion that lacks them.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

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