Maverick environmental writers William J. Kelly and Chip Jacobs follow up their acclaimed Smogtown with a provocative examination of China's ecological calamity already imperiling 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.
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William J. Kelly has written for LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, Alternet, and California Journal. He was the chief spokesman of South Coast Air Quality Management District, the smog control agency for greater Los Angeles. The author of Home Safe Home and a senior correspondent for California Energy Circuit, he lives in Los Angeles.
A Los Angeles–area author and journalist, Chip Jacobs has reported for the Los Angeles Times, Daily News of Los Angeles, CNN, The New York Times, LA Weekly, and Southland publishing, among other outlets. He lives in Southern California.