In the previous chapter, we focused on the sources of economic growth in Latin America. Until the 1980s, economists were primarily interested in the process of raising GDP per capita. This is understandable, given the pressing economic needs of the majority of humanity residing in low- or middle-income countries. The study of economic growth in Latin America was no different in this regard. However, the rest of the world caught up with economics. The environmental movement, born in the 1960s, filtered into the discussions of economic growth in the 1970s and 1980s. The situation now is such that discussing economic growth without considering the environmental consequences would seem odd. Rapid economic growth in a low- or middle-income country can create extremely high levels of pollution and degradation of the environment. As countries move from low to middle income, levels of pollution can rise dramatically as the country industrializes and energy consumption by both producers and consumers rises rapidly. Globally, the focus of growth and the environment has been China. With less fanfare, Latin America is experiencing many of the same difficulties. In many parts of Latin America, drinking a glass of water or breathing can be hazardous to your health. When traveling in the region, this is just a nuisance. Unfortunately, for hundreds of millions of people living in Latin America, environmental problems are a part of daily existence that is continually shortening lives and diminishing the quality of life. This is occurring even though economic growth in the region has been relatively slow. If the rate of economic growth picks up at some point, the problems could quickly become more acute.