Thimphu, Bhutan—If any nation deserves a waiver from the depredations of climate change, it is surely the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. A Maryland-sized postage stamp of a country, it is entirely surrounded by the world’s two most populous nations, India and China, but resembles neither. Bhutan is the no-hunting, no-fishing, no-billboards, no-smoking, no-genetically-modified organisms, no-plastic-bags, no-stoplights, no-mountaineering exception to the world as we know it. The country is poor and seeks development, but only on its terms—not at the expense of its profoundly reverent but vulnerable Buddhist culture and its fragile, achingly beautiful mountain terrain.

The nation wears its luxuriantly green, steeply gorged, abundantly canopied, biologically exuberant forests like a crown, with pride and protectiveness. Both are reflected in a nearly 40-year-old law, enshrined five years ago in Bhutan’s new constitution, requiring that 60 percent of the nation must be forested in perpetuity—a provision that is largely complied with. More...

You do not currently have access to this content.