Taking Back Eden: Eight Environmental Cases That Changed the World

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Taking Back Eden: Eight Environmental Cases That Changed the World
By Oliver A. Houck
Island Press, 2010
200 pp. $27.50
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This interesting and well-written book tells of eight cases in eight countries -- Canada, Chile, Greece, India, Japan, the Philippines, Russia, and the United States -- where environmentalists have mounted legal challenges to the actions of business and government (or, in the case of the pollution-eroded Taj Mahal, government inaction) and won. In all the cases, laws calling for the protection of particular parts of the environment were on the books. But government agencies either ignored the laws completely or treated them as a low priority. Often with incredible persistence, citizens challenged the government and, after establishing legal standing (sometimes no easy task), gradually persuaded courts to take decisions against government agencies -- something common enough in the United States but extremely unusual in many other countries, such as Japan and Russia.

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