China's pollution video, 'Under the Dome' goes viral

Posted Mar 3, 2015 by Karen Graham
Most documentaries focusing on air pollution don't make the top-10 list anywhere. But surprisingly, the documentary entitled “Under the Dome,” a film about energy and environmental issues in China has become an online hit.
Beijing  China on January 21  2014.
Beijing, China on January 21, 2014.
Chai Jing was an anchor doing in-depth reporting for China Central Television and became a household word for her excellent investigative stories on the National News. She has covered the SARS outbreak and the Wenchuan earthquake, to name just a few stories of national importance.
She is the narrator of the documentary that combines investigative reporting along with her personal story, including her pregnancy and subsequent birth of her daughter. In a compelling voice, she narrates a story of not being particularly concerned over the smog and air pollution she faced every day, until she found out she was pregnant, and her unborn child had a benign tumor.
This is where the video narrative takes a serious turn, and her life is changed forever. Ms. Chai describes feeling afraid for her child, not just that the surgery performed immediately after birth would be successful, and it was, but fear engulfs her when she begins to think about how her precious child will have to eat, drink and breathe in an atmosphere that introduces harmful pollutants into her system with everything she does.
It was her infant's health that prompted Ms. Chai to produce the video Under the Dome." It was published online Saturday, where it became an instant success, praised by the public and the news media. The newly appointed minister of environmental protection Chen Jining, praised the video, and likened it to Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," an expose of chemical pollution published in 1962.
Mr. Chen was at a news conference for reporters on Saturday, saying the official state website for the People's Daily was the first to publish the video. “I think this work has an important role in promoting public awareness of environmental health issues,” Mr. Chen said, “so I’m particularly pleased about this event.”
And just as Rachel Carson's book was the catalyst in starting the environmental movement in the United States, the attention garnered by "Under the Dome" may have the same lasting impact on a nation already fed-up with dirty air and sickness caused by pollution.
The video is peppered with scenes of withered trees, cities masked by pollution so thick it is difficult to see the buildings, and dirty smokestacks, spewing poisons into the air. There are also numerous charts showing rising levels of PM2.5 pollutants, the airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter that penetrate the lungs.
The video is a powerful story, made all the more real because it is also a personal story that everyone can relate to. Not only does the video hold to the high standards seen in investigative journalism, but the scientific facts are well documented. The video has been translated and contains English subtitles. I hope everyone watches the documentary. Let us know what you think about its message.