* Chip discusses his forthcoming book, The People’s Republic of Chemicals, and global smog on National Public Radio affiliate KCRW. Madeleine Brand, who hosts the “Press Play” show, had some terrific questions.
* Speaking of The People’s Republic of Chemicals, here’s the working dust-jacket description. It and our author bios will be updated soon.
Maverick environmental writers William J. Kelly and Chip Jacobs follow up their acclaimed Smogtown with a provocative examination of China’s ecological calamity already imperling a warming planet. Toxic smog most people figured was obsolete needlessly kills as many there as the 9/11 attacks every day, while sometimes Grand Canyon-sized drifts of industrial particles aloft on the winds rain down ozone and waterway-poisoning mercury in America. In vivid, gonzo prose blending first-person reportage with exhaustive research and a sense of karma, Kelly and Jacobs describe China’s ancient love affair with coal, Bill Clinton’s blunders cutting free-trade deals enabling the U.S. to “export” manufacturing emissions to Asia in a shift that pilloried the West’s middle class, Communist Party manipulation of eco-statistics, the horror of “Cancer Villages,” the deception of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and spellbinding “peasant revolts” against cancer-spreading plants involving thousands in mostly censored melees. Ending with China’s monumental coal-bases decried by climatologists as a global warming dagger, The People’s Republic of Chemicals names names and stresses humans over bloodless numbers in a classic sure to ruffle feathers as an indictment of money as the real green that not even Al Gore can deny.
* As we announced earlier, Smogtown will be published in Mandarin and available in Mainland China soon through Shanghai Scientific & Technical Publishers. One version of it at least is already available here at Amazon.com - China.
* While five-and-a-half-years behind 0ur book launch (but who’s counting?), the Glendale Public Library was gracious enough to give Smogtown a wonderful review.
Smogtown isn’t a new book, but the conflicts covered in its last chapters are still breaking news. The LA Times’ Trash talk and the real dirt on a toxic tour of Los Angeles, just featured one of Smogtown‘s history makers, Communities for a Better Environment … The earlier history in this book is entertaining and enlightening. In contrast with dry accounts of the decades-long struggle the auto industry waged to avoid emission limits, this book covers selected battles by focusing on personalities like Haagen-Smit and vendettas like the war waged on Detroit by Supervisor Kenneth Hahn for better pollution controls on cars. Its chapters make for great drama instead of dry documentary. Scientists, politicians, lobbyists and determined bureaucrats on both sides fight it out, while residents used to burning their trash and driving their cars suffer through smog alerts but are difficult to motivate … Smogtown is great reading because much of the history it covers is still unfolding today: The BNSF Southern California International Gateway project, an inter-modal facility four miles from the port, is being actively opposed by the City of Long Beach, Communities for a Better Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and other groups. Long Beach is suing Los Angeles over approval of the SCIG EIR. The I-710 expansion EIR, in the works for years, is being held up and is actively opposed by a large coalition proposing its own Community Alternative 7. For more background on Southern California’s goods movement infrastructure, environmental justice movement, research on fine particulate pollution, and personalities still making news today, Smogtown is a great resource.