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Interactive: Comparing Asian Powers to the U.S.

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Interactive: Comparing Asian Powers to the U.S.

Whether it’s the planning and execution of massive infrastructure projects like One Belt, One Road, or the dramatic increase in wealth occurring in the region, it’s clear that the economic boom in the East is rapidly expanding Asia’s influence on the world stage.

More importantly, this growing economic might is also translating to geopolitical influence – and over time, it could have a paradigm-shifting impact on the balance of power in the world.

How to Compare Asian Powers

Today’s interactive infographic on the Asia Power Index comes to us from the Lowy Institute, and it introduces a methodology to compare Asian powers using macro categories such as economic resources, military capabilities, cultural influence, diplomatic influence, and defense networks.

Each category is informed by a number of indicators – and there are 114 metrics in total. They include quantifiable numbers from public sources on things like military expenditures, global exports, global investment outflows, number of supercomputers, satellites launched, etc.

Interestingly, all of the data used to score powers in Asia is also contrasted to the United States, which helps give an idea of relative significance.

The Most Powerful Nations

We recommend exploring the interactive piece to get the most out of the data – but here are some meaningful spoilers to start with:

Overall Power
Taking all 114 metrics into consideration puts the U.S. into the #1 spot with a score of 85.0. Right behind are China (75.5), Japan (42.1), India (41.5), Russia (33.3), and then Australia (32.5). The U.S. leads in five categories, but falls behind China in three: Future Trends, Diplomatic Influence, and Economic Relationships.

Economic Resources
In this category, the U.S. and China are neck-and-neck with scores of 91.7 and 91.3 respectively. The next closest Asian powers are well-behind: Japan (32.9), India (26.8), Russia (17.0) and South Korea (17.0).

Military Capability
As expected, the U.S. ranks #1 with 94.6. On the Asian side, we have China (69.9), Russia (61.4), India (48.9), and North Korea (35.8).

Future Trends
This category takes into account future projections on economic growth, military expenditures, and working age population size. Not surprisingly, China ranks #1 here at 83.0. Behind it is the United States (60.0), and India (55.6). Other Asian powers are a ways further down the list, with Indonesia (11.7) and Russia (11.4) being the only other countries with double-digit scores.

For more, we recommend checking out the full-width interactive version provided by the Lowy Institute here.

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Visualizing the World’s Top Plastic Emitting Rivers

Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the world’s oceans – much of it through our river systems. See which rivers are polluting the most.

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Visualizing the World’s Top Plastic Emitting Rivers

Every year, approximately eight million metric tons of plastic enters the world’s oceans – the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic every single minute.

Every plastic fork and bottle cap bobbing along the surface of the ocean has made its way to the ocean from dry land at some point. As it turns out, the hydrological cycle that keeps water circulating around the planet is also an effective means for trash to hitch a ride from our riverside cities to the open ocean.

As today’s unique, vintage-themed map – via John Nelson at ESRI – visualizes the shocking amount of plastic emitted by major rivers in the world.

Plastic Superhighways

It would be hard to overstate plastic’s influence on modern life.

Unfortunately, when plastic is finished doing it’s job, only 10% of it ends up being recycled. Instead, much of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced each year ends up in the ocean, congregating in places like the Pacific Garbage Patch.

Plastic discharge is especially pronounced in large population centers along large rivers – particularly in rapidly urbanizing regions in China, Indonesia, and Nigeria.

River plastic emissions to the world’s oceans

Waste management practices are limited to non-existent in many of Asia’s fast-growing urban areas, so it comes as little surprise that 14 to the top 20 plastic emitting rivers are located on that continent.

The mighty Yangtze – China’s largest river – supports a population of over 400 million people and is the most prolific emitter of plastic waste on the planet. Over 1.5 million metric tons of plastic is unleashed into the Yellow Sea from the river each year.

Stemming the Tide

Plastic emissions data makes one point clear – China is the key to decreasing the volume of trash entering our ocean ecosystems.

The good news is that the Chinese government has recognized the problem, mandating garbage sorting in nearly 50 cities and setting a target for at 35% recycling rate by 2020. A positive first step in the battle to stem the tide of plastic entering ocean systems.

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Upward Momentum: Charting a Year of Skyscraper Construction

Nearly 150 skyscrapers were completed around the world last year. Find out which cities and regions are growing skyward the fastest.

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Ever since the first towering spires broke through the clouds in New York and Chicago, skyscrapers have remained a potent symbol of economic might.

The tallest buildings require vast amounts of materials, expertise, and capital to make them a reality, but the cities that add these landmarks to their skylines gain prestige and send a powerful message to competing economic centers.

Skyscraper Construction in 2018

Where are the most skyscrapers popping up? Let’s take a look at regional hot-spots around the world.

Charting a Year of Skyscraper Construction
Note: For the purposes of this article, “skyscraper” will refer to buildings 656 feet (200 meters) or more in height.

China is Flying High

For well over two decades, China has led the world in skyscraper construction, and 2018 was no exception.

The country’s fixation on urban growth and continued economic success is producing tall buildings at a staggering rate. Last year, a mind-boggling 89 skyscrapers were completed in 28 different cities around China.

To put this building boom into perspective, China completed more skyscrapers in one year than New York City’s entire stock of 656ft and taller buildings.

Skyscrapers in China

In 2018, no city reached for the stars quite like Shenzhen. The city, which is a hub of China’s high-flying tech sector, now has the second-most skyscrapers in the world, surpassed only by Dubai.

Shenzhen isn’t just building a lot of skyscrapers, it’s building extremely tall ones too.

In 2017, for example, the ribbon was cut on the massive Ping An Finance Center, which is currently the 4th tallest building in the world. Last year alone, four new towers cracked the 1,000ft (300m) barrier.

Asia, Rising

While China’s scale is hard to beat, other cities in the region are also undergoing dramatic changes, particularly in Southeast Asia. Malaysia and Indonesia completed a combined 13 new skyscrapers, and the Vincom Landmark 81 was added to Ho Chi Minh City’s growing roster of unique skyscrapers.

While there are two skyscrapers under construction in Japan – one in Tokyo and one in Yokohama – none of them were completed last year.

A New Era of American Skyscrapers

After a two-decade lull in skyscraper construction, the United States is embracing taller buildings again. Last year alone, the U.S. added 14 new skyscrapers into the mix, particularly in New York City, where construction cranes dot the horizon. In the past decade, NYC has added 25 new skyscrapers to its iconic skyline.

This trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Between now and 2022, 44 skyscraper projects are expected to be completed in the United States, with the vast majority being built in the Big Apple.

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