G. Tracy Mehan III, a frequent contributor to WaterWired, is the former Assistant Administrator for Water at US EPA in the administration of President George W. Bush and now executive director for government affairs at the American Water Works Association, the world’s oldest and largest water association with 50,000 members. He writes great reviews (and other things) so when he sends me something I put it up.
In this review of Blue Skies over Beijing: Economic Growth and the Environment in China, he escorts us up and down the (environmental) Kuznets curve, which posits an inverted U-curve relationship between environmental quality and economic growth as shown in this graphic from Wikipedia. But his review is so much more than that. Give it a read.
The first few paragraphs of the review:
China, like the former Soviet Union, is plagued by environmental challenges experienced only by a country or society where the government technically and practically owns everything, fails to respect rights of private property, subsidizes industrial production, obliterates the distinction between regulated and regulator, and sup- presses free and open elections and anything like a consistent rule of law, while harboring a brutalist view of natural resources and the environment. In such places government failure rivals market failure as the cause of many, if not most, environmental problems.
However, since its move toward economic, not political, liberalization of the economy in the 1980s, China has succeeded at least in producing wealth for its population. As described in Matthew E. Kahn and Siqi Zheng’s impressive new book Blue Skies over Beijing: Economic Growth and the Environment in China, over the last 30 years, the nation’s economy grew at an amazing rate of 10 percent per year, and the share of people living below the poverty line fell from 84 percent to 13 percent.
"Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists." - John Kenneth Galbraith