More than 30 cities, including Beijing, have been covered in dense smog over the past several days. One of Beijing’s worse round of air pollution kept school children indoors and sent coughing resident to hospitals on January 14, 2013. The wave of pollution peaked on Saturday with off-the-charts levels that covered Beijing’s skyscrapers in thick gray haze.
Air pollution in Chine is a major problem due to the country’s rapid pace of industrialization, dependence on coal power, explosive growth in vehicle ownership and disregard for environmental laws, with development often taking priority over health. The pollution typically gets worse in the winter because of an increase in coal burning.
Pollution is more than an annoyance for China’s city residents. A study released by Greenpeace and Peking University’s School of Public Health found that exposure to ultra fine particulates helped cause 8,572 early death in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Xian in 2012.
The official reading for the most dangerous particulates—known as PM25—has recently soared as high as 993 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing, the highest level since Chinese environmental officials started releasing measurements a year ago. The World Health Organization says anything over 25 is unhealthy.
In severe situations like these, environmental activism comes to the rescue. We are all aware of the destruction caused by global warming and other human-caused events, that are creating havoc around the world. In some places, the environment has been polluted to such a degree that living creatures dwelling in these areas, are going completely haywire.
Recently I viewed thirteen video presentations dubbed, “Video & Photo Mojo,” produced by TED Talks, which depicted how the power of images were used by photographers and film producers to arouse consciousness about social problems of our times. They understood the power of images and the connection to the viewers. When man loses his moral compass, it is necessary to shake the tree and bring him back to his senses. Connecting people through images can do that by using today’s technological tools. I was impressed how movies were intentionally produced to inspire social change (e.g., Ghandi, Lawrence of Arabia, The Hurt Locker, and Charlie Wilson’s War, among others.)
Below is a list of the passionate social activists which participated in the series about the power of images and its use to correct or mitigate social issues around the world:
- James Cameron
- Deborah Scranton
- Ryan Lobo
- Beverly & Dereck Joubert
- David Griffin
- Tayrn Simon
- Jonathan Klein
- Ed Ubrich
- Shakhar Kapur
- Jehane Nvujaim
- Jarreth Merz
- Sharmeen Obaid
- Jeff Skoll
If you can squeeze some time to enjoy these videos, it will be time well invested. I’m sure we can all take part in changing our small corner of the globe by betting on good people doing good things.
It’s highly possible that somebody out there is using powerful images to scale down the smog problem in China, even as we speak. Good Day.