It's no secret that the air quality in China is pretty awful — anyone in China can see and feel the highly polluted air pretty much anytime. But the Chinese government would rather you didn't notice, which is why they've blocked access to the popular documentary Under the Dome. But you can still watch it, right here.
Chai Jing is a successful journalist and news anchor in China, and the mother of a little girl. When she was pregnant, she found that her baby had a tumor, which required removal soon after birth. Chai suspected China's rampant air pollution to be a cause, and that sparked an investigation that became this documentary.
Under the Dome is a pretty straightforward sort of documentary. It's Chai herself onstage, talking in front of a video screen, and it feels a bit like a TED talk of some sort. But it's far more in-depth — Chai goes all over China over the course of a year, investigating polluted areas, talking to people affected, and getting scientists to find out the contents of all that crap in the air.
The video went viral, gaining over 100 million views in about 48 hours, giving a clue as to how starved many Chinese citizens are for real information about their air quality. There's lots of striking scenes in the movie, from a young girl admitting she's never seen a real star to an environmental protection official admitting he feels "like a mascot."
The documentary has now been blocked in China, but we can still see it, and it's worth watching. One would hope the Chinese government will take this seriously and not try to pretend it's not an issue. Besides, much of this is solvable — the US went through a similar air quality crisis in the 70s, and eventually, we did something about it.
Sure, we had to deal with some pretty miserable cars in the mid-to-late 70s, but we did figure it out, and came out stronger as a result — and with vastly cleaner air.
This isn't the 70s. China has access to the technologies needed to make things better, so there's no good reason for them to try and stifle documentaries like this.