A stark video, ‘Under the Dome’ documenting China’s dangerously high levels of air pollution has spread rapidly across the Globe.
Chai Jing, a former state television presenter gives her personal account of living in a smog filled city, weaving in scientific evidence and shocking images for maximum impact. The video can be watched here, although please note that English subtitles are still in process.
Ma Jun, a well known Chinese Environmental specialist describes the documentary as “one of the most important pieces of public awareness of all time by the Chinese media.” He said, “It is powerful because it is motivated by a personal story and has got the feelings that people can relate to. It also holds to the standards of investigative journalism, it is properly vetted on the scientific and technology side, it is a powerful combination.”
Jing states that she only awakened to the true horror of living with such high levels of air pollution when she learned that she was pregnant. “I didn’t wear a mask in polluted days before. After holding a new life in my hands, I started to worry about the air quality.”
Since her birth Jing has felt forced to keep her child indoors “like a prisoner” for days on end when the pollution levels are just too high.
The documentary shows a clip of Jing interviewing a 6 year old child in 2004. The child states that she has never seen stars, nor clouds, but has seen a blue sky once. The realisation that this could be the experience of her own daughter moved Jing to learn more about the smog hanging over China and spread the word about what needs to be done to improve the quality of life there.
What is Smog?
In Beijing in 2014, 46 photographers recorded images of the sky in for 40 consecutive days. The results as shown in the video are astonishing, some days buildings are barely visible through the clouds of pollution.
Despite this, smog is a largely ‘invisible enemy’, the particles of pollution are far too small to see with the human eye. Jing took a filter designed to collect these tiny ‘PM2.5’ (particulate matter) molecules with her as she went about her normal day for 24 hours. She then had the filter analysed to find out exactly what had been in the air around her.
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