This Bleak Documentary Clip Brings Home the Daily Reality of Smog in China


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This Bleak Documentary Clip Brings Home the Daily Reality of Smog in China

A clip from "This Changes Everything," which connects our polluted world to the economies that caused it.
Rachel Pick
New York, US

In this clip from the new documentary This Changes Everything, we see how smog caused by the rapid industrialization of China is affecting its population.

Visibility on roads is drastically reduced, citizens are breathing through scarves and masks, and in some cases, people are simply unable to go outside.

When former television journalist Chai Jing released her self-produced documentary on climate change Under the Dome earlier this year, it was viewed 200 million times in one week—then, the government shut it down. It's hard to imagine a child who has never seen a star at night or a cloud in the sky, but a little girl in Under the Dome tells us that she hasn't, and it's because of the thick smog that blankets her native city of Beijing.

In a presentation, Chai shows all the days in 2014 where the air was too smoggy and polluted for her to take her daughter outside. The total number is a whopping 175 days out of the year. Other cities in China had similar numbers.

Ailun Yang of global NGO Climateworks notes that despite China's growing middle class and generally improved living standards, clean air is less and less accessible. "[People are] now starting to ask, 'When can we buy clean air?'" she says.

Inspired by activist Naomi Klein's book of the same title, This Changes Everything is a comprehensive documentary shot over four years in nine different countries. The film looks at several personal stories of people and communities who have been directly affected by climate change.