Last Tuesday the Chinese government released the results of a two-year national survey of sources of pollution. The data, which include 5.9 million sources of pollution, are to be used to help the government develop a new five-year plan for combating pollution. Zhang Lijun, China’s vice minister of environmental protection, said that the data also may be used to help develop new green taxes to increase incentives to reduce emissions. One of the most striking findings of the data was the large share of water pollution that comes from agricultural runoff. The raw data were not released to the public, but the Chinese government said that wastewater discharges included 30.3 million tons of biochemical oxygen demand, greatly in excess of the 7.4 million tons that it had estimated that Chinese lakes and rivers were capable of absorbing. A New York Time article describing the data and quoting my friend Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, is available online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/world/asia/10pollute.html
Snow shut down the Baltimore/Washington area from Monday through Thursday last week. I was fortunate to be able to leave for San Francisco on Monday to attend the annual Macworld conference. One of the exciting new developments this year is interest in adapting casebooks so that they can be used on Apple Computer’s newly announced iPad. The advantages not only would include freeing law students from having to haul around gigantic books, but also immediate access to multimedia materials without having to make separate trips to the internet. In my view, it is just a matter of when and the result may be a revolution in how casebooks are published and distributed.
I am now in Geneva, Switzerland where I will be giving a talk tomorrow at the World Health Organization (WHO) on “How Safe Is ‘Safe’? The Emerging Global Law of Environmental Protection.” I also am visiting two students of mine - Briana Wagner and Kristen Weiss - who are working on internships at WHO on a project to assess how developing countries can improve their laws relating to liability for harm to public health from environmental pollution.