The improvement in the living conditions of the inhabitants of the Third World involves both economic growth and the ambient ecological conditions. These two factors need not be in conflict, and development of a country implies improvement in both spheres. This slender volume is an attempt to introduce the reader to the problems that are created when the ecological side of development is neglected. Attention is also drawn to the fact that we all share the same planet, that the environment is a wonderfully integrated system, and that any large-scale ecological misdemeanour may result in an ecodisaster for all of us.
I found my education and work experience in both the First and Third Worlds extremely useful in writing this book. I am also fortunate in having been taught for a few years in a university department which happens to bring together the two disciplines of geography and environmental engineering, an extremely uncommon combination, but very helpful in preventing one from looking at the environment from the narrow viewpoint of one’s own interest.
I should like to acknowledge my debts to several individuals without whose help and encouragement this book probably would not have been finished. I am obliged to Irene Chee and Peh Mung Ngian for typing the manuscript and to Lee Li Kheng for drafting the diagrams with the usual speed and efficiency. The book has improved considerably from the criticisms on an earlier draft by A. Fraser Gupta, Mukul Asher and Richard Corlett. I should also like to thank the organizations and the individuals who gave me permission to reproduce their illustrations. Their names are included in the captions.