We now live in a globalized economy, and many people say it doesn't matter where something is made. However, where products are made should matter to people who are concerned about the environment and the health and well-being of people around the world.
China's environmental problems are immense, not least those connected to its voracious and inefficient use of coal. In 2011, for example, the country used almost half of global coal consumption, although its economy is still around half the size of the U.S.
Particulate matter is now the fourth-leading cause of death in China, behind dietary risks, high blood pressure, and smoking. And, unless current trends change, urban air pollution is projected to be the number one killer worldwide by 2050.
I don't think I've ever seen such a gathering in China before. Nearly one hundred people met in Beijing recently to discuss their efforts to promote environmental transparency and public disclosure of pollution data.
Before the thick blanket of smog choking Beijing lifted in early February, it had been more than three weeks since I'd seen the sun and even longer since I felt safe enough to walk outside without a surgical mask covering my nose and mouth.