Asia should be less concerned with growing its economies and more focused on sustainable development, said Nobel laureate Professor Lee Yuan Tseh .
"People in Asia always say they want to catch up with the United States, but if the world consumes like Americans, we would need 5.4 earths to sustain us," said the Taiwan-born professor who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1986.
Speaking at a five-day Singapore International Science Challenge organised by the National Junior College, which started on Monday, Prof Lee said although Asia has several encouraging projects like the Tianjin Eco-city, a massive population is also migrating from rural areas to cities. "I'm afraid at this rate, green energy may not be able to overcome more consumption by more people," he said.
Prof Lee is also the President of the International Council for Science. Together with other science institutes, the council is involved in the Future Earth Project, a decade-long research initiative which explores methods to cope with global environmental change.
Fossil fuels have generated much of the West's growth in the last century but Asia needs to "blaze its own trail" in sustainable growth. "The West views nature as separate from humans to be studied, controlled and used. The East views nature and humans as one, whose relationship is defined by harmony," Prof Lee said, urging a younger Asians to explore these roots.