Recently (28th Feb 2015), former Chinese journalist Chai Jing released an anti-pollution documentary, “Under the Dome”, which talks about China’s horrendous air pollution and is critical of the Chinese government’s policies which she blames for the country’s pollution crisis. She brings the audience through the issue with charts and diagrams through a presentation in a manner similar to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”.
With the documentary going viral over just a few days, the Chinese government has imposed a ban and links to the documentary were pulled off from Chinese major video sites. The government has yet to comment on this to date.
Even though this documentary is not solely about street pollution (and is more about pollution specifically in China), I thought that this will be something interesting and definitely relevant to what we are studying in school right now. For a start, here are some issues that we should consider:
- Why did China impose a ban on this documentary? Does that mean that what the documentary says is false or that the government is refusing to acknowledge the truth? Do they have something to hide?
- Pollution is not simply about the physical effects of the pollutants on the environment; it is implicate in political decisions and has profound effects on both the social and economic spheres. This should prompt us to consider various factors contributing to pollution problems when assessing them.
- Beyond the environmental effects of pollution, the internet is an interesting medium too — is it a whistle-blower? Can it prompt governments to take action? Raise awareness amongst the internet population? How can activists make use of the internet medium to bring their messages across to the wider public?
- Of course, we should not forget that every documentary has its own biases. As such, we should not be taking in facts from documentaries (not just this one) mindlessly and should verify them before taking them as “justified beliefs”. We should also be cognisant that statistics (charts, data) can be manipulated to serve a particular purpose.
Meanwhile, here’s the Youtube link to the documentary. It is rather long (about 1hr 40mins) but it is worth the watch. I have included the version with English subtitles! Do have a look!
Chen, T. (2015). Pollution Documentary Pulled from Chinese websites. Wall Street Journal — China News. [Online] Retrieved from: http://www.wsj.com/articles/pollution-documentary-pulled-from-chinese-websites-1425643149 [Last accessed: 7 March 2015]