Climate Change, Conservation, Environmental Hazards, Health

Chinese Documentary on Air Pollution Rocks the Internet

Beijing covered in heavy smog
A new documentary takes a hard look at air pollution in China.
Image: axz700 / Shutterstock.com

Former state television reporter Chai Jing has created a documentary on air pollution being hailed as this generation’s Silent Spring. The 104-minute film shows Chai presenting in TED Talk-style format her experiences as an expectant mother who went on to investigate the history and effects of smog on the population of China.

Released last Saturday, the film, “Under the Dome,” has racked up 100 million views on major Chinese video portals Tencent and Youku, and it has resulted in 280 million posts on Sina Weibo, a microblogging site.

Chai’s investigative reporting looks at China’s air pollution as compared to that of London and Los Angeles, as well as critically reviewing China’s reliance on fossil fuels, heavy industry, and its lax enforcement of environmental laws.

“I’d never felt afraid of pollution before and never wore a mask no matter where,” Chai said in the video. “But when you carry a life in you, what she breathes, eats, and drinks are all your responsibility, then you feel the fear.”

Chai’s daughter was born with a benign tumor, which she suggests was caused by Chai’s exposure to air pollution. Though the tumor was successfully removed, it spurred Chai to make this public statement about the effects of pollution.

The video’s reception has been overwhelmingly positive. Though some question the science about smog’s effect on her daughter, the video has not been blocked by the government. In fact, the new minister of environmental protection, Chen Jining, publically praised the video, saying it reminded him of Rachel Carson’s seminal Silent Spring.

Economic effects occurred almost as soon as the video was released. As of today, more than a dozen stocks for companies dealing with pollutant treatment, air quality monitoring, and green technology have skyrocketed, several rising 10% and exceeding the daily trading limit. These include Sail Hero, Top Resource Conservation Engineering, LongKing Environmental, and Create Technology & Science.

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