The development of cities has always brought pollution in its
wake. Considering one of the first Acts in London was to control
smoke in the 16th century it follows that wherever people gather,
air quality diminishes. The problem we see today is similar
to that seen centuries ago but the key difference is the sheer
size of the problem.
text focusses on some of the largest Asian cities - 20 in all
from Bangkok to Tokyo. There's an interesting mix from some
of the world's poorest places to some of the very richest. Places
where basic human needs are not being met to areas where any
sort of problem would have been assumed to be fixed ages ago.
Here's what makes this an interesting read - pollution is no
respecter of money or technology. The aim of the book is to
describe the results of a study carried out to benchmark air
quality and to suggest some ways forward. The first chapter
examines in some detail the development of urban air pollution.
It starts with a consideration of the way in which pollution
levels change with development and goes on to see what drives
pollution, its impacts and how it can be addressed. In so doing
it follows the increasingly common DPSIR system (drivers, pressure,
state, impact, response) which provides a robust framework for
discussion (and a useful way for the reader to understand the
issue). Chapter two examines the way in which air quality is
being investigated and managed in the target cities. There's
details about method, pollutants measured and the level of management
capability. A final table rates cities with unexpected results
- top cities for quality are drawn from a range of development
'levels' although there is the inevitable lower ratings for
those cities most in need of help and finance. Chapter three,
the largest in the book, takes each city and examines key factors
e.g. legislation, emissions, monitoring and health. Chapter
four gather some of this data together to see to what extent
air quality management as a system is present in these cities
and what are the barriers to improvement. A final chapter describes
some of the key trends and how they might be managed.
idea of this book is quite simple and yet very effective. We
read a lot of generic material about air quality but rarely
is there a book looking specifically at this issue in a series
of cities. The book is well written for a general audience which
makes its information all the more accessible. The comparisons
mean that most people will have a connection with at least one
of the cities so that one can identify with the issues raised.
Despite these qualities, this is a very focussed text which
will really only provide details for those interested in specific
areas or in air quality management discussion. This might limit
the market which is a pity for it has much to say that deserves
a wider audience.