Power Puzzle

Julian Abram Wainwright for TIME

A farmer works near a coal-fired power plant outside Hanoi

Dao Duy Dang remembers the night in 1963 when the lights came on in Uong Bi. "People were so excited," the 70-year-old tea-shop owner says, recalling the cheers that rang through the northern Vietnamese town after one of the country's first coal-fired power plants began operating. "Their whole lives they had wished for electricity." Be careful what you wish for. Soon after the plant opened, Dang's wife developed a cough from the thick black smoke from the power plant that hung over the town. His children had near-constant runny noses and neighbors reported other nagging health problems. When Vietnam's...

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