Pollution in China is, once again making headlines and I have been wrestling with what subject to begin my life as a blogger. Nature is my studio and several years ago during a TV interview I blurted out that Mother Nature has no voice so my photography will speak for her…and so will this blog.
China, like the proverbial dragon awakening from centuries of slumber, spews enormous belches of smoke to signal its wakefulness…and contaminate the rest of the globe. This pollution is taking a toll on the health and well being of the Chinese people, rich and poor…yet the Chinese government shows no remorse.
Pollution shrouds Forbidden City
The Forbidden City takes on a new connotation as pollution adds to its forbidden-ness…but pollution is not limited to Beijing. Pollution knows no boundaries. It is spreading throughout the world, across oceans, even down into the pristine air of Antarctica. Once upon a time Beijing was known as a city of open skies. Today the air is thick and grey from coal, its most abundant energy source.
The grayness of the air, like a +3 stop neutral density filter, lessens the intensity of color…but worse than seeing dull hues is the knowledge that the gray air is inhaled and ingested. Contaminated food and water is on the rise. Upper-respiratory and pulmonary diseases are as well and the average lifespan in China is being diminished by 5 years.
A Tearful Situation
Some people wear masks to filter the pollutants that irritate eyes and throat… but in the end masks cannot prevent contamination. China’s water supply, crops and fish have already reached frighteningly high levels of contamination…which should give us all something to cry over and do something about. Pollution contributes to an estimated 750,000 premature Chinese deaths each year according to one unpublished World Bank study. Contamination knows no borders and crosses oceans with remarkable potency.
Tourism on the Yangtze River
Tourists flock to China to cruise on the Yangtze River before flooding changes the landscape eradicates the Three Gorges. I was one of those tourists and it was as though I was on a Disney ride that was playing It’s a Small World After All. One tourist vessel followed the next, like many cars on a track that moved us through a fantasyland. Catch the gorgeous gorges before they vanish….
Pollution Making Machinery
Exponentially, China’s pollution is so great that it dwarfs the effects of the Industrial Revolution in Europe and in the United States. When is humanity going to wake up and make changes…This dam, however, is no fantasy. It is largest dam project ever undertaken by man and it is causing the greatest relocation of people in the history of civilization.
Dawn on the Yangtze River
Color on the Yangtze River appears to be blanketed in shades of misty gray early in the morning. I found it similar to the early fog that I might covet at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia or in the Smoky Mountains…but this mist fog doesn’t lift.
I was in China for two weeks before I saw a strange phenomenon…the sun… struggling to shine through the layers of pollution. Shanghai is a modern city and an economic center. Recent photographs of this bustling city are drowning in pollution.
Ironic, isn’t it, that a no smoking sign should be emblazoned on the boat cabin in Hong Kong Harbor! There is no question that hydro-electric power is needed in China to stem the rampant pollution from burning coal….but just as instantly built cities have crumbled from the recent earthquake, who can imagine the damage this dam can cause if its construction, too, is faulty. The effects of this dam can impact on us all, which ironically makes for a Small World After All.
I’ve been told that I make pollution look beautiful and it’s made me wonder if I am doing Mother Nature a service…but if you’d like to see more of my China images, please check out my China Portfolio. This work is also available for exhibition.