In September I was able to experience first hand the horrendous traffic congestion in Jakarta, Indonesia, one of the few cities in the world without a rapid transit system. Last week an order by Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama went into effect that suspended regulations prohibiting vehicles with less than three passengers from using major highways during rush hour. The justification for the one-week suspension was that the rules had encouraged exploitation of children who were hired out to enable cars to meet the three-person requirement. Predictably, traffic became even worse during the one-week suspension. Governor Basuki has proposed an electronic congestion pricing system like those used in SIngapore and central London, but he has not been given the authority to impose it. Joe Cochrane, And Indonesians Thought the Traffic Was Bad Before, N.Y. Times, Sept. 11, 2016, at A4.
The World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum announced that the global population of tigers in the wild has increased for the first time since 1900. There are now an estimated 3,890 tigers in the wild, a huge decline from the estimated 100,000 present in 1900, but an increase from the 3,200 estimated in 2010. In a Christine Hauser, Number of Tigers in the Wild Rises for the First Time in a Century, Conservationists Say, N.Y. Times, April 12, 2016, at A8.
For the first time since 1996 the acreage of crops planted with genetically modified seeds (GMOs) declined in 2015. The decline was slight, only 1%, and due largely to falling commodity prices that encouraged less planting. The U.S., Brazil and Argentina account for more than three-quarters of worldwide use of GMOs, which are found largely in corn, soybeans, cotton and canola. Andrew Pollack, Planting of Genetically Modified Crops Declined in 2015, N.Y. Times, April 13, 2016, at B1.
A mountain of trash the size of the national mall in Washington, D.C., has been burning in the Indian city of Mumbai. More than half of Mumbai’s garbage is dumped untreated each day in this Deonar garbage dump. Public outrage over the stench and pollution from the burning has spurred what some are calling a middle class environmental awakening as citizens demand that the government shut the dump down. The city government is considering moving its garbage disposal to a site in a rural area outside of Mumbai, but it is not moving fast enough to satisfy residents near the current dump. Rama Lakshmi, In Mumbai, Fury Over a Burning Trash Mountain, Washington Post, April 16, 2016, at A6.
Last week the Chinese media reported that a survey of 2,100 wells found that 80 percent of the groundwater used by farms, homes and factories is heavily polluted. Most of the contaminated water was classified as Class 5, the worst category of contamination. Chris Buckley & Vanessa Piao, Rural Water, Not City Smog, May Be China’s Pollution Nightmare, N.Y. Times, April 12, 2016, at A4. CCTV reports what Professor Zhao Huiyu describes as a “Chinese Love Canal” where a middle school in Changzhou was discovered to be located on the site of closed chemical plants. The site was found to be heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals and 493 students were found to have health problems associate with toxic exposure. An editorial about the incident is at:
http://m.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1457962?from=groupmessage&isappinstalled=0 (in Chinese, but written well enough to understand with Google translate).
On April 6 we held our annual Golden Tree awards ceremony for films produced by students in my Environmental Law class last fall. The award for Best Picture went to the film “Perspectives on Electronic Waste and Recycling” by Christine Wang. This film also received awards for Best Cinematography and Best Interviews. “Tough Time to Be a Bee” by Renee Lani and Brieanah Schwartz won Golden Trees for Most Educational and Best Use of Humor. It also won a Special Judge’s Award for “Best Alcohol Ad” based on a scene interviewing a winemaker who uses honey to make mead wine. “Apple in China” by Jinxin Sui and Fangzhou Xie received awards for Best Sound Quality, Best Special Effects and Best Music.
Students in my Global Environmental Law seminar have made guest blog posts about their research that I will be posting in the “Students” section of my parallel blog that can be found at http://www.globalenvironmentallawcom. The first group of posts includes: (1) 3L Alex Stern’s articulation of a strategy for getting Maryland to join the 22 other states that have environmental amendments in their state constitution, (2) 1L Sara DiBernardo’s discussion of the implications of rapid sea level rise caused by climate change, (3) 2L James McKittrick’s discussion of the challenge of pollution from the maritime cargo industry, and (4) 1L Kerri Morrison’s explanation of the global status of nuclear waste disposal. Several more student blogs entries will be added to this parallel blog over the next week.