Video: Under the Dome – Investigating China’s Smog

Abby Zimet, Common Dreams

Giving new breadth to the term viral, last weekend up to 200 million people in China watched Under the Dome, a new, deeply personal, meticulously researched, self-funded for just $160,000 documentary about Chinas calamitous pollution problem, which on its worst airpocalypse days is said to resemble an airport smoking lounge. The film by former news anchor and environmental journalist Chai Jing has been called “one of the most important pieces of public awareness of all time for China, and in its potential impact has been compared to Rachel Carsons Silent Spring in this country and, later, Al Gores An Inconvenient Truth. It was released on the eve of Chinas annual meeting of the National Peoples Congress in Beijing, which will set government policies on a range of issues.

Jing, 39, began working on the film for personal reasons: She was pregnant with her first child, who was found to have a tumor. Though she had never before been afraid of the pollution around her in smog-blanketed Beijing or her native coal-choked region, she says, when you carry a life in you, you feel the fear.” She went on to do extensive research, assembling statistics on the estimated 600 million people suffering from asthma, heart disease, strokes and other ailments likely caused by environmental factors, travelling around the country to interview experts, workers, doctors filming, at one point, the removal of a cancerous lung and visiting particularly polluted sites like the northeastern city of Harbin, with pollutant levels many times those considered hazardous. Jing found, and hopes to capitalize on what she calls a basic social consensus that we all need air. This, she says hopefully, is how history will be made. To date, Chinas famously restrictive state media has been startlingly supportive of her message; experts say their openness may or may not last. You can watch the film in Mandarin with English sub-titles here, or watch its dramatic start and final call to action, with middle portions summarized, here.

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3 thoughts on “Video: Under the Dome – Investigating China’s Smog

  1. T. Vijayendra on said:

    1. It is very beautifully produced and quite moving. However one should be prepared for it and have patience as it is quite long.

    2.She explains the problem very well and every one should know about it.

    3. Her solutions are only partially correct. It is correct to protect oneself and see that the laws are implemented, bad factories should be closed, bad vehicles should be recalled etc.

    4. Her examples of how London or USA solved the problem are not valid any more. They solved it when the resource constraint was not global and they used Third World resources to solve their problem. They used resources beyond the carrying capacity of their country by importing the carrying capacity what William R. Catton called ghost carrying capacity. Today the world is exhausted and the only solution is to reduce economic growth. It may any way happen because of world recession and collapse.

  2. Stanley Ravi on said:

    Im amazed by the persistence of this level of Journalism and the quest a mother will go on for the future of her child

  3. Contra Dixon on said:

    what Chai Jing does not say or is not allowed to say that this situation is the direct result of the Chinese governments policy of turning China into the worlds factory. if you are producing industrial goods for the whole world, then you must also endure a disproportionate amount of pollution and environmental damage. this suits the western countries who continue to enjoy the benefits of a hyper-consumerist economy, but have outsourced the environmental, social and health costs to the Third World. and now that Chinas clamping down on emissions and is beginning to take a low carbon route, here comes India, inviting the world to Make In India what an idea sirji!

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