29 April 2015

Under the Dome -- the Review

This amazing documentary gives me a lot of hope for China (and us) in the way that it addresses, dissects and criticizes Chinese government policy, (in)action, and progress in dealing with local pollution (the movie's subtitle is "Investigating China's Smog"), which will have to be addressed before global pollution (GHGs) is.

I was pretty much glued to the film the whole way through, as Chai Jing (a TV-anchor who quit her job after her baby daughter was born with a lung tumor) pretty much sets up and knocks down every cultural, economic, and political cause, effect and barrier to addressing China's smog problem. I learned that China has plenty of laws to control smog, but that those laws are rarely enforced. I learned that the main problems come from protections given to China's dirty coal producers, dirty truck producers and -- above all -- Sinopec, the oil and gas monopoly that doesn't see a need to invest in cleaner fuels or natural gas. The problem is not growth per se, but (as usual) rent-seeking crony capitalism.

Aside: I am curious to know how Chinese viewers perceived some segments that crossed rock-video editing with informal personal questions. My guess is that these moments do not stand out to them as much as they do to non-Chinese.

This video was released and watched 200 million times before it was censored in China. I know that politicians there care more about maintaining power above all else. Hopefully, they will use this film to pressure for reforms without weakening their power. The Chinese people surely deserve it.

Bottom Line: I give this film FIVE STARS for its insightful analysis and criticism of the causes and solutions to China's smog problems.

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