The Devastating Effects of Pollution in China (Part 1/2)

The Devastating Effects of Pollution in China (Part 1/2)


-Nice face Feinberg,
nice face.

Yeah, that’s it.
Minu, can you duck
a little bit?
I want to get his face
in the window.
There we go.

That’s the guy who we rely
on to do our camera work.

That ape.

DAVID FEINBERG: I’m David
Feinberg, and VBS sent me to
China with the camera
to film the dirtiest
place on the planet.
It is the city of Linfen, and
spending about a day here
breathing in the air is about
the same as smoking three
packs of cigarettes.
The scary part is that there’s
a lot of cities
in China like this.
16 of the world’s 20 most
polluted cities are in China.
And my bosses convinced me to
come here and spend a week
filming and breathing
in all this crap so
they don’t have to.

[MUSIC- BLACK LIPS, “NAVAJO”]
Linfen produces what any nation
of over a billion
people need– a ton of energy.
It’s an endless landscape of
factories all spewing a bunch
of toxic chemicals into the
air and poisoning the
land and the water.
There’s no clouds, just a
permanent toxic smog hovering
over the city.
Linfen is located in the heart
of Shanxi Province.
Every day, thousands of coal
trucks go between Linfen and
the rest of China’s to cities.
Then they come back
empty for more.

WANG HONGYING:
[SPEAKING CHINESE]

AILUN YANG: China suffers from
both local problems and global
environmental challenges.
So the combined impacts of
climate change and local
pollutions are causing enormous
consequences.
A lot of the environmental
problems in China are very
closely linked to our energy
consumption because there’s
something fundamentally wrong
with the economic model.
That’s why the more the economy
grows, the more the
environment starts
to get worse.
Linfen really shows the other
side of Chinese economic
development, which is actually
the ugly side of it.
And this is about how unbalanced
the Chinese
development has been.
DAVID FEINBERG: The sky in
Linfen was taken from a sci-fi
movie, but life there seems
relatively normal.
There’s 4 million people and
like any other town in China,
its roads are clogged with cars
and trucks, and there’s a
lot of construction.
Linfen has had a bit of a PR
problem ever since the World
Bank called it the most polluted
place on Earth.
Even the Chinese media has
reported on the disaster,
admitting that people
have been moving
away because of pollution.
I didn’t see anyone leaving
town except
all the coal trucks.
They’re actually a big source
of pollution themselves, and
are everywhere.

Linfen has no tourism, and
I think we were the only
foreigners in the entire city.
Everywhere we went we
really struck out.
[SIDE CONVERSATION]
[SPEAKING CHINESE]

When we pulled up to this
elementary school, some kids
were leaving for the day, and
it looked like there was a
huge fire burning down
the neighborhood.
The kids weren’t too worried,
and I realize that this is
probably what they see every
time they leave school, or go
outside to play.

AILUN YANG: Just take the
example of air pollution.
70% of Chinese cities
cannot meet
their air quality standards.
The burning of coal is the main
cause of air pollution in
China, but of course the
increasing transport and also
the constructions going on
everywhere in China are also
reasons for air pollution.

QIU LIN: [SPEAKING CHINESE]

WANG HONGYING:
[SPEAKING CHINESE]

QIU LIN: [SPEAKING CHINESE]

-[SPEAKING CHINESE]

DAVID FEINBERG: When I found out
I was going to Linfen, I
found some painters masks under
the sink in our office.
My mom also told me I should
wear a mask at all times and I
saw a lot of photos of people
on the streets of Chinese
cities wearing masks.
When we got to Linfen we were
surprised to find out that
nobody wore masks.
I didn’t want to stick
out anymore so we
left the masks behind.
However, I still took a photo
wearing a mask just to show my
mom when I got home.

-Back from the waters of the
Yellow Sea, far inland from
the eastern plains, for
unnumbered generations,
farmers have plowed
the fertile soil.
After the harvest, the plow.
And after the plow,
the planting.
This has been the cycle,
endlessly repeated.
Through the ages, waters from
the mountains have been fed to
the fields of the valley for
crops that have never failed.
One day the farmer looked up
from his work in age old
fields and saw a strange
new carriage.
The engineers of a far off
land devised new uses for
flowing streams, producing
a strange new power.
To the valley came electricity,
that bring the
valley home the signs
of a changing world.

DAVID FEINBERG: It was only 20
years ago that Linfen was
nicknamed the fruit and flower
town of Shanxi Province.

Since then it’s basically been
turned into China’s coal mine.
It’s even more remarkable to
think that this has all
happened in the span
of my lifetime.

WANG HONGYING:
[SPEAKING CHINESE]

-[SPEAKING CHINESE]

-[SPEAKING CHINESE]

-[SPEAKING CHINESE]
-[SPEAKING CHINESE]

AILUN YANG: In China
over half of all
the rivers are polluted.
One third of the lakes are
polluted, and over 80% or 90%
of the urban groundwater
are polluted.
So this is about how
serious the water
pollution is in China.
Those pollutions mainly come
from industry processes.
It’s about factories who do not
clean up their pollutants
before they release those
things into the river.
And also another main
contributor is the pollutants
from the pesticide used in
the agriculture process.
Most of those cancer villages
are actually
caused by water pollution.
And because the people in those
villages depend on this
river for their water sources,
that’s why you see a higher
percentage of cancer patients
in those villages.
DAVID FEINBERG: All of the
food I had in Linfen was
actually quite good.
It may have been full of
cancerous toxins, but at least
I could tell it was grown in
the ground as opposed to in
some laboratory.
I have a feeling a lot of the
stuff I eat back home may be
just as bad for me.

QIU LIN: [SPEAKING CHINESE]

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