ESIC goes beyond the coverage of other reference sources by considering the historical and cultural framework. ----Mary Ellen Quinn Booklist, April 15, 2009
We competed Environmental Science: in Context (ESIC) while working on assignment in China and Cambodia in June 2008. In Beijing, preparations for the 2008 Olympics were nearing completion, with the last bits of construction finishing in a flurry of activity. The city and its generous people readied themselves to put the best foot forward as host to the world. Flower boxes lined airports and roadways, all overflowing with beauty.
The excitement in the air was palpable, but so too was the pollution that at times tortured the lungs and brought both real and symbolic tears to the eyes.
Walking along a road one day, we watched as a small piece of paper, no larger than a gum wrapper, flew off the backpack of a young man speeding along on his bicycle to work or school. The young man never saw the litter and soon turned a corner. The small piece of paper, something that would be inconspicuous among the debris routinely encountered along streets in most of the other great capitals of the world, stood in stark contrast to the meticulously clean street and generous bike path. Less than a minute later, however, a woman peddling by in the opposite direction spotted the paper, turned, stopped, dismounted from her bicycle, picked up the paper and put in her own backpack before resuming her journey.
The incident contrasted a people meticulous and caring of their environment with inhabitants of a city sometimes choked with smog, and in an instant crystallized our understanding that it is simply not the case that the Chinese do not care about pollution in Beijing or other cities. Rather it is the case that modern China and other developing economies now face the very same tests of balancing economic growth with environmental concerns that many Western governments and cites failed during the twentieth century. (more) Brenda Wilmoth Lerner and K. Lee Lerner, editors. Beijing, China. June, 2008.