Choking on Growth

Jan Morris, writing in her 1988 book on Hong Kong, describes Victoria Peak, the island's highest point, as a place where "the hills of Guangdong stand blue in the distance ... you see the city itself precipitously below you. The early sun catches the windows of Kowloon across the water." But if you had visited the Peak on Sept. 14, when Hong Kong experienced a record-breaking day of air pollution, you would have seen a view that was little more than a smudge. The skyscrapers could be glimpsed only through a veil of noxious smog, sunlight did not glint from windows...

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