February 2012


While I earlier reported that my book was reviewed by Oxford University Press, I have now gotten my hands on the entire review, and am sufficiently excited about the review that I must share the final two paragraphs:

"Czarnezki’s central challenge, therefore, appears to lie in the promotion of ideas that
can generate, first, traction, thence demands for reform and, thereafter, widespread
commitment to securing change. The ultimate message is an endorsement of the
power of law to promote such change: here, specifically, to produce mechanisms that
challenge cultural resistance, as well as making the implications of eco-friendly choices
better understood and (here’s the rub), often both easier and cheaper to boot.

This excellent, provocative book is largely concerned to lay down markers, alert
to both the possibilities and the constraints that regulatory frameworks can offer.
It offers a fund of ideas with which policy makers and environmental lawyers can
usefully engage."

My book Everyday Environmentalism was reviewed in Oxford University Press’ Journal of Environmental Law. It reads:

“The premise underlying this fascinating volume is that public policy can affect individual behaviour; and, more importantly, there is a significant role for government and law to play in addressing the more intractable environmental problems that are driven by aggregate behavioural choices. This requires the development of a new generation of regulatory mechanisms, to shape individual consumption decisions in accord with efforts to change social and cultural norms on grounds of sustainability. The search, therefore, is for not only technical but also cultural solutions, and in this, the overall objective is perhaps an anthropological equivalent of the butterfly effect on hurricanes (by a flapping of wings). Thus, the author emphasises the importance of ‘individual, seemingly insignificant, choices that, taken in the aggregate, can have potentially enormous effects’ (p 1).

There are two introductory chapters. Chapter 1 traces the (New World) exploitation of nature as a matter of ‘manifest destiny’, and its modern day evolution into the bloated modern trends of consumption. The author draws a withering comparison with the ‘wilderness’ writings (Thoreau, Muir, etc) and the loss of an ideal of resource stewardship. The narrative thereafter develops in numerous, separate but inter-locking contexts, concerned with cause and effect implications of an increased cognitive consumer severance from the environment. The reviewer was reminded here of the (hopefully apocryphal) footballer who, when set to play in New Zealand and upon finding his favoured breakfast unavailable, bewailed: ‘How come in a country with eight million sheep you haven’t any bacon!’ Chapter 2 completes the introduction, identifying a range of threats posed by climate change. This, he suggests, offers a ‘unique window for understanding why environmental regulation of cutting-edge problems remains difficult’ (p 14): for cutting-edge, we should surely read ‘chronic’ or, perhaps simply, ‘dire’.”

See here, but unfortunately you need a subscription to see the whole review.

I had heard that Basel is one of the more underrated tourist destinations in Europe. After arriving on the City Night Line train and spending all day walking around, I would certainly agree. The Old Town is fabulous with quiet, winding, small, cobblestone streets and old churches and squares. And our small boutique hotel in Old Town, De Teufelhol Basel, is quite nice. The electric trams on the streets are fantastic. And though I’m annoyed that I bought 2-day tram passes when the hotel gave us a set for free upon arrival, it’s good I did because, like Paris, Basel’s mass transit works on the honor system with undercover plain-clothes transit police looking to give out huge fines for folks without tickets. Guess who magically appeared on the #3 tram, but such an officer ready to give me a $100 fine. (Though I’m now more annoyed do to the following info that I just learned from wikitravel: "All hotels in Basel, including the youth hostel, offer each registered guest a free "Mobility Pass" upon check in. This gives free unlimited travel in Basel and suburbs (including to and from the airport) for the duration of their stay. This is easily worth the price of a lunch every day you stay. If you have written confirmation of a hotel reservation you can also use this to travel from the railway station or airport to your hotel.")

Since my partner keeps encouraging me to write about my travels (though she does a much better job at it), I thought I’d do so. We spent the day in Copenhagen, a lovely city, where last night we simply wandered around the pedestrian-only streets. In walking distance of our hotel (the conveniently located but not too fancy Hotel Danmark), we spent the day at Christiansborg Slot, seeing the Royal Reception Rooms, ruims of the old castle, armory and royal stables. While it was slightly chilly and somewhat rainy, it was a very enjoyable day with the kids.

After living a China for a year, Europe is of such a smaller and lesser crowded scale. I often assume things will be difficult and crowded when they simply aren’t. For example, as I write this I’m on the City Night Light train from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Basel, Switzerland. I assumed the Copenhagen Central Station (København H) would be packed. I was decidedly wrong. A spacious train station with few people, at least compared to China.

On the way to Basel, we’ll pass through essentially all of Denmark and Germany. We currently stopped in Kolding, Denmark. We’re in a four-person sleep couchette. Some tips for train travel thorough Europe: (1) Carry a lot of food and drink with you. But a note: if you love sausage, potatoes, cheese, beer and chocolate, you need not every carry any food as these things are found in great abundance in Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, and on this particular train. (2) Carry cash in many denominations. Shockingly (but maybe not given Germany’s relationship to the Euro), the City Night Line only takes Euros and Swiss Francs, and I had to do a bit of a song and dance when we stopped in Odense to get Danish Kronor from an ATM, and convince someone to let me buy something in Kronor and get change in Euros so I would have Euros on the train. (3) Bring a map of Europe with you so you can see where you are. (4) The lighter you pack the better, something we fail to given that my kids can’t carry all their bags. I can’t wait to say: “You can bring what you can carry.”

In other news, my sabbatical has just hit a turning point, where a feel I finally have the time to simply write. Article paragraphs and grant proposals are being typed with more speed. After this post, I’ll move to work on a article tentatively titled, “Global Environmental Law: Food Safety and China.”

Last week I took the high-speed train to Stockholm to attend a conference on Baltic Salmon, but also to meet with my colleagues from Uppsala University to discuss our upcoming workshop in China on comparative approaches to the intersection of environmental law and public health. While in Sweden, I’m also collaborating with the Uppsala Faculty of Law on comparative research about environmental quality standards and working with Kristianstad University on approaches to using regulation to create more sustainable lifestyles. On the China front, I’m building on this Op-Ed, as well as this one, to further explore FDA involvement in China, consumption, issues of global food security, and some soil and water pollution cases studies in China that impact the food system.

Meanwhile it’s "Sportlov" in Sweden (the "sports week" winter beak). While most Swedes go skiing, we’re taking the kids on a train trek through Europe. (Did I mention that I love train travel?) I’m currently in Copenhagen before we take the overnight train to Basel, Switzerland, which we’ll tour before taking yet another high-speed train to Milan to see friends. After Milan, it’s Zurich. For train geeks out there, I must highly recommend this website. (FWIW, I’m sort of a travel planning geek. My partner keeps insisting that I should start a separate travel blog and advise folks about travel, so if you ever need to find an awesome boutique hotel in Bangkok, family friendly and cheap digs in Hong Kong, or a cute place in the old part of some European city, just let me know. Perhaps in 20 years, my next career will be specialized travel planning.)

THIRD ANNUAL COLLOQUIUM ON ENVIRONMENTAL SCHOLARSHIP
AT VERMONT LAW SCHOOL

OCTOBER 12, 2012

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS

Vermont Law School will host the Third Annual Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship on October 12, 2012. The Colloquium offers the opportunity for environmental law scholars to present their works-in-progress and recent scholarship, to get feedback from their colleagues, and to meet and interact with those who are also teaching and researching in the environmental and natural resources law area.

If you are interested in presenting a paper at the Colloquium, please submit your contact information, a working title and short abstract using our online form by April 30. For an abstract to be eligible for submission, the author must anticipate that the paper will still be at a revisable stage (neither published nor so close to publication that significant changes are not feasible) by the date of the Colloquium. We will do our best to include all interested presenters, and will notify authors about acceptances no later than May 2012.

All selected participants will be required to submit a paper draft no later than October 1, 2012, and all participants will be asked to provide commentary on another participant’s paper draft at the Colloquium. Final papers will also be eligible for publication in the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law.

The Colloquium will take place on Friday, October 12, and Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center and its faculty will host a cocktail reception on Thursday evening, and dinner on Friday evening. Further Colloquium details regarding schedule, events, lodging, and transportation will be forthcoming and available at www.vermontlaw.edu/ces2012.

Submit your abstract here.

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