Literature Review

Water covers 70% of our planet, and it is easy to think that it will always be plentiful. However, freshwater—the stuff we drink, bathe in, irrigate our farm fields with—is incredibly rare. Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is tucked away in frozen glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use.
As a result, some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. Inadequate sanitation is also a problem for 2.4 billion people—they are exposed to diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses. Two million people, mostly children, die each year from diarrheal diseases alone.
Many of the water systems that keep ecosystems thriving and feed a growing human population have become stressed. Rivers, lakes and aquifers are drying up or becoming too polluted to use. More than half the world’s wetlands have disappeared. Agriculture consumes more water than any other source and wastes much of that through inefficiencies. Climate change is altering patterns of weather and water around the world, causing shortages and droughts in some areas and floods in others.
At the current consumption rate, this situation will only get worse. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. And ecosystems around the world will suffer even more.

infographic taken from

As seen in the info infographic above, many people are dying due to the lack of a supply of clean water.

Water pollution comes from many sources including pesticides and fertilizers that wash away from farms, untreated human wastewater, and industrial waste. Even groundwater is not safe from pollution, as many pollutants can leach into underground aquifers. Some effects are immediate, as when harmful bacteria from human waste contaminate water and make it unfit to drink or swim in. In other instances—such as toxic substances from industrial processes—it may take years to build up in the environment and food chain before their effects are fully recognised.

Water pollution has many impacts on the environment. 50% of the world's wetlands have been destroyed since the 1900s. This eventually cause ecosystems on earth to be damaged, threatening the survival of many species. One example would be the Aral Sea. The Aral Sea in central Asia was once the world’s fourth largest freshwater lake. But in only three decades, the sea has lost an area the size of Lake Michigan. It is now as salty as an ocean due to the excessive pollution and the diversion of water for irrigation and power generation. As the sea has retracted, it has left polluted land. This ecological catastrophe has created food shortages and resulted in a rise in infant mortality and a decrease in life expectancy for the nearby population.

Past studies and experiments have been carried out, showing how industrialization negatively affect the environment. Until recently, Many researchers have shown interest in the field of water pollution. Numerous experiments have been conducted to determine things such as the pH levels of water and the different types of chemicals present in polluted water bodies. Even though industrialization brought about tremendous wealth, it has also led to severe deterioration in water quality by polluting the water bodies with chemicals and by incorrect disposal of waste products. Majority of these previous studies are only limited to how industrialization leads to water pollution but none of them show a comparison between GDP rates and water pollution rates. Our team intends to do a comparative study between three countries, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea, and show the relationship between GDP and Water Pollution rates.

How we decided on Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea

Singapore -
Singapore was once a small country with limited natural resources and a small manufacturing base with mediocre infrastructure. It neither had domestic capital nor foreign investments. Today, the picture is quite a contrast. It is one of the world's leafing economies with robust infrastructure, sizable foreign direct investments and an impressive record of phenomenal industrial growth.

After independence in 1965, Singapore began to move away from its post-war dependence on entrepot trade, broadly defined as the trading of goods that passes through Singapore from a foreign source to a foreign destination.

It embarked on industrialisation and diversification to improve its economy and to create jobs. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a rapid expansion in manufacturing and construction. There was also an increase in domestic trade and tremendous growth in sectors like public administration, defence, tourism and finance.

Hong Kong -
Significant transformation of economic activities has taken place in Hong Kong in the past two decades. Hong Kong's manufacturing industry has declined substantially relative to its service industry, in term of employment and of contribution to GDP. Hong Kong has emerged as a centre of services, mainly manufacturing-related producer services. While growth of producer services is expected in most advanced economies, Hong Kong's transformation from an industrialized city to a centre of manufacturing-related services has been dramatically speeded up by the opening-up of the mainland Chinese economy in the past two decades. In addition to its relocation of manufacturing to mainland China, Hong Kong has played an increasingly important role as an intermediary for trade between mainland China and the world market. 

South Korea -
South Korea had industrial development policies that impacted the pattern of industrialization during the first two decades since the beginning of the First Five-year Development Plan in 1962. In South Korea, industrial policies have evolved and its industrial policy frameworks have changed in response to changes in economic conditions in the world as well as in the domestic economy. 

It is found that Korea's Industrial development has overwhelmingly been guided by industrial policy which was well-articulated in design and efficiently executed. In particular, overall macroeconomic policies affecting the pattern of industrial development have been effectively and consistently orchestrated with sector-targeted development policies. 

To summarize, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea are countries that have had extensive industrialization and are continuing to grow economically. These countries are few of the top that have the highest industrialization rates in the world and the highest GDP rates as well. Due to this reason, we have decided to base our research on Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is the sum of all goods and services sold in a country during a given year. The most common formula for calculating this is: consumption + investment + government spending + (export-imports). GDP is commonly used as a shorthand to measure a country's economic performance-the assumption being that a higher GDP indicates a successful economy.

GDP can be determined in three different ways, production, income and expenditure approach, but the most direct approach is the production approach which sums the outputs of every class of enterprise to arrive at the total.

Below is a link to a rough line graph of the GDP rates over the past few years in Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong

GDP Chart


What exactly is BOD?

BOD stands for Biochemical oxygen demand and it is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in a body of water to break down organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over a specific time period.

Why did we chose to use the data collected for water pollution by percentage of BOD emissions?

Biochemical oxygen demand is a measure of the quantity of oxygen used by microorganisms (eg. aerobic bacteria) in the oxidation of organic matter. Most of these bacteria that are found feed on dead algae and other dead organisms. These bacteria help in the decomposition of wastes in the water. If there are more wastes, there will be more bacteria and if there are more bacteria, more oxygen will be used. Therefore, we believe that the BOD emissions rate will be the best identification for how polluted the water is.
Water Pollution

Water pollution is any chemical, physical or biological change in the quality of water that has a harmful effect on any living thing that drinks or uses or lives in it. When humans drink polluted water it often has serious effects on their health. Water pollution can also make water unsuited for the desired use.

In many places around the world, industry is the largest source of water pollution, and nearly all sources of water have some level of contamination from industrial waste and chemicals. The waste includes heavy metals, solvents and radioactive materials that eventually enter underground supplies of water. In the developing world, 70 percent of industrial waste is disposed of directly into water.
We aim to prove if there is really a linkage between water pollution rates and GDP rates or if the GDP rates are only a small factor to what affects water pollution.

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