A 104-minute documentary on China’s crushing air pollution problem reached an audience of more than 175 million people across the country last weekend, with Environment Minister Chen Jining comparing the film to the 1962 release of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in the United States.
Under the Dome, produced by former news anchor and environmental reporter Chai Jing, “has caught the Chinese public at a moment of intense focus on the wide-ranging impacts of air pollution from coal-fired power plants and vehicle emissions,” Think Progress reports. And “in a country known for spiking any media that paints the government in a bad light, the documentary has not been firewalled.”
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Chai acknowledges she never paid much attention to air pollution in her home city of Beijing until she became pregnant in 2013, then learned that her fetus had a benign tumour. “I’d never felt afraid of pollution before, and never wore a mask no matter where,” she says in the video. “But when you carry a life in you, what she breathes, eats, and drinks are all your responsibility, and then you feel the fear.”