July 31, 2019

Transboundary Shipment of Waste: Threats of War, Toxic Colonialism, and Memories of Philadelphia

John K. Powell

Human population has doubled over the last 50 years, now approaching eight billion. By all accounts, habitation of the planet has been a success, but in some ways catastrophic. Along with population growth, the world has witnessed a proportional increase in consumption of food and natural resources and as a result, waste production. The intensity of consumption and overall quality of life varies greatly by country though, sometimes creating an unequal power dynamic that may allow more economically developed countries to take advantage of those struggling to provide basic needs. This imbalance has played out in the context of environmental law and policy with wars fought or threatened over access to clean air, water, and land, including the issue of waste disposal. This article looks back at the odyssey of the Khian Sea, revisits the unfortunate practice of toxic colonialism, and highlights a recent threat of war by the Philippines against Canada.

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