When I looked at my WeChat feed yesterday evening, I was happy to realize that there wasn’t popular videos talking about a dress changing colors or Jackie Chan “duang”, instead there were posts on issues that really matter.
Inspired by her daughter born sick, the former CCTV presenter, Cai Jing, has released a self-funded, inspiring and well researched documentary about smog, inspired by her sick daughter.
Yesterday, she posted online her self-funded documentary which she called “Under the Dome”. After less than 24 hours, there are more than 16 Million views on YouKu.
WATCH the documentary in full length by clicking here.
The documentary is in Chinese but we’re sure a translated version will appear worldwide in the coming days.
She created what everyone in China had in mind but did not know how to talk about it, how to fight against it! She answers the three simple questions: What is Smog? Where does it come from? And what to do about it?
Part 1: Have you ever seen real stars?
In 2004, Chai Jing interviewed some people in Xiaoyi, Shanxi province, where people were suffering from air and water pollution. A six-year-old local girl said she had never seen white clouds, stars and blue sky.
A decade later, millions of Chinese people have been sharing the same situation.
In 2014, there were 175 polluted days in Beijing, 197 polluted days in Tianjin, 152 polluted days in Shenyang, 125 in Chengdu, 112 in Lanzhou, and 264 in Shijiazhuang.
Part 2: What is smog?
In order to capture air pollution, Chai took a sampling meter with her. The white paper in the device turned to black after 24 hours.
A lab test showed at least 15 cancer-causing matters were contained in the black paper, including Benzo[a]pyrene which was 14 times higher than the national standard (In Xiaoyi, the Benzo[a]pyrene was only nine times higher than the national standard).
During the heavily polluted period in January 2013, hospitals in 27 Chinese cities saw 10%-150% more emergency cases. Most patients were children and senior citizens.
Some parents began to consider exposing their kids in smoggy weather more often so they could adapt to bad air when they grow up.
A patient with lung cancer agreed that Chai could record her surgery at Beijing Tumor Hospital. The patient never smoked. Doctors speculated that air pollution destroyed the immune system of her lungs, which caused the cancer.
How could the lung cancer develop so fast if we only began to have smog in the past two to three years? Chai received some photos from NASA that showed the air quality in NE China in the past decade.
Experts told Chai we already had high PM2.5 ten years ago, but we only monitored PM10 at the time and thought smog was fog.
A professor who has studied air pollution for 30 years said, in the 1980s, polluted air had begun to cause lung cancer in China, but people were more concerned about economic development at that time.
Over the past 30 years, the death rate of lung cancer surged 465%. Although smoking and ageing were two major problems, air pollution was also considered a factor.
Part 3: Where does smog come from?
After some analysis, scientists from China Academy of Sciences found that the black matters captured by the sampling device were from burning coal, fuel, fertilizers, industrial production, dust, and other human-related activities.
Conclusion: 60% of PM 2.5 in China comes from the burning of fossil fuels.
In 2014, a photo from NASA shows the intensity of fossil fuel burning in worldwide. Look at the burning China! The consumption was three to four times higher than in Europe.
Part 4: What happened to our coal?
Every country burns coal, but why the air pollution is much worse in China? In 2013, China consumed 3.6 billion tons of coal, more than all the other countries in the world put together! The most recent case happened in London, and it caused a huge problem in 1952.
Of the 3.6 tons of coal, 300 million tons were consumed in Hebei province. The biggest steal producing areas in the world are China, Hebei province, Tangshan city, and the United States.
In provinces like Jiangsu, there isn’t so much coal burning, but there are a lot of power plants and cement factories. There’s a power plant every 30 kilometers.
As we consume more and more coal, we won’t always have good coal to burn. We will have to make do with wood coal, the burning of which will produce black dust. On October 21, 2013, the first day of public heating supply in Harbin, the city burned 20 million tons of wood coal.
PM 2.5 surged above 1,000. With many passengers on board, a bus driver deviated from the right route in the smoggy weather!
How many people drive cars?
In Beijing, a major source of PM2.5 comes from motor vehicles. About 34% of citizens in Beijing drive cars. In the city center, 1 ton of PM2.5 is emitted to the air every hour during rush hours.
About 44% of those who drive during rush hours in Beijing work less than five kilometers away from their homes. About 11% and 7% of them work only 2 kilometers and 1 kilometer from their homes.
In Hangzhou, there are over 200 polluted days in a year! The head of Hangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau admitted that the city has the most motor vehicles in China: one in every two citizens has a car. 40% of pollutants in the city comes from motor vehicles.
PM2.5 peaks after mid-night
In Beijing, PM2.5 readings often peaks from mid-night to early in the morning. That’s the time when trucks come out. Only trucks with green marks, meaning environmentally friendly, are allowed drive on certain roads, but marks are marks! The emission of some green-marked trucks doesn’t reach the national standard.
The environmental protection bureau said they had no right to crack down on fake environmental-friendly trucks; the truck producer said his business would fall apart had he produced authentic ones while others produce fake ones!
The rest of the movie shows how other countries deal with air pollution, and things China still has to do about air pollution.
Today is probably the day we will talk about in the coming years where Chai Jing empowered Chinese people with all the materials they need to fight and complain about pollution; and that pollution is not a fatality.
Is it a coincidence that Mr Xi Jinping nominated the day before the release of that documentary a new Minister of Environment?
Ms Chai Jing, respect! You are changing China and thus the world with your awesome work!Chai China coal government Jing Pollution. documentary