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Global swarming

If six billion people enjoyed US standards of living would it spell environmental disaster for the planet? As the economies of China and India take off, this is no longer an academic question. Vincent Cable, senior research fellow at Chatham House, argues that-with one big reservation-the eradication of poverty around the world is environmentally sustainable

By Vince Cable   December 1995

Nothing is more calculated to send a shiver of unease through an environmentally concerned audience than to conjure up a world in which over a billion Chinese or Indians enjoy a western family lifestyle: a car (or two), a fridge, central heating (or air conditioning), a dish washer, an automatic washing machine-and 2.4 children.

The prospect may seem remote. However, China’s living standards are doubling every seven years if their own figures are to be believed (and certainly, even if they are treated with scepticism, every ten years). India is poorer and less dynamic but there is already a “middle…

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