Some have wondered why I became interested in traveling to and teaching environmental law in China. An answer is that environmental problems are becoming increasingly (or, perhaps better stated, already are) global, and I’m not convinced that I’ll be able to teach environmental law and policy in 5 or 10 years without understanding more about Asia, especially China and India. The following quote from “Thunder from the East” (a book already 9 years old) illustrates the point:
“People are dying from pollution not just in Badui but all over Asia. The entire continent is an environmental nightmare, for rapid industrialization has produced some of the filthiest air and water ever seen in human history. One United Nations study found that of the fifteen cities with the worst pollution in the world, thirteen were in Asia. ‘The worst pollution in the world is unequivocally in Asia,’ says Daniel C. Esty, a specialist on international environmental issues at Yale University. ‘The statistics about China are stunning, and right behind those Chinese citites statnd almost every other major city of Asia…”
I should state that the authors do point out the countries usually develop first, and then clean up their environment. See, e.g., Japan (especially Tokyo) and the U.S.
[ed. note: Badui is a rural village in China’s Gansu Province.]