Under the Dome

Professor Timo Rissanen introduced himself by telling us that he is committed to empowering students to make a difference in any field when they graduate from Parsons. This statement resonates with the question I raised in my last post: How do you define success? Certainly, Rissanen seconds the notion that success can come in various forms. He made me believe it does not matter if it is a single step or a small action; we all share responsibility, and together we can make a difference within society and maybe create a utopia.

Thus, today, here, instead of feeling helpless and frustrated, I attempted to become an activist like Rissanen who emphasizes fashion as activism. I decided to share a new Chinese documentary titled “Under the Dome,” produced by renowned investigative journalist Chai Jing, who used her own money – more than 1 million RMB ($159,000) – to fund the film.[1] The documentary bears a resemblance to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”: Chai, like Gore, uses a multimedia PowerPoint presentation to explain the science, economics and politics of China’s pollution crisis. Rissanen claimed the truth is that laws from the central government are commonly ignored by lower-level officials, particularly when they might affect economic growth. To me, it is not simply a binary issue (yes or no, right or wrong); rather it is way too complicated and has more than fifty shades of grey areas. Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall once said, “This is a difficult issue for governments of all complexions because the prevailing economic orthodoxy says that consumption equals growth, and growth is the only game in town.”[2]

Growth was certainly the only game in China. Nevertheless, I was excited to see that since the 104-minute film was released online on Saturday, it has already notched over 200 million views on Chinese video sites. It has ignited a national debate across China, with millions stopping to pay attention to an issue that has been lingering in the air for years. Although someone might doubt if this will change anything, it is the very first step that will lead us to awakening. People have started asking, “What can I do to solve the problem? How to live a sustainable life?”

I want to underline the fact that none of us are “Outsiders.” All of us are “Insiders.”

Here is the documentary on Youtube with English subtitles.

[1] Celia Hatton, Under the Dome: The Climate Film Taking China By Storm, 2 March 2015, BBC NEWS.

[2] Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall, House of Lords, Ethical and Sustainable Fashion, Questions for Short Debate. March 19, 2013.

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