China’s air pollution problem poses a significant threat to the country’s public health. A number of studies have tried to come to grips with these effects, like one that found coal pollution in northern China lowered life expectancy by five years, another study estimated that 670,000 people die from smog-related causes, and another suggested that air pollution negatively impacted the brain development of children born near a coal-burning power plant.
Often these stories about air pollution are accompanied by images of smoky city skies or traffic-packed streets with dulled by smog. We rarely get a glimpse into how these conditions impact individual people.
A sort film by director Jia Zhangke aims to make the air pollution problem more human. “Smog Journeys” depicts life in northeast China. Watch it here:
The film was commissioned by Greenpeace East Asia, which is fighting for measures to reduce air pollution. Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and Xi’an all have particulate pollution levels higher than the World Health Organization’s guidelines for clean air. Last year, China’s premier declared “war on pollution,” but there is still much work to be done. Learn more about Greenpeace East Asia’s air quality campaigns here.