A brave mother's video caught the attention of over 150 million Chinese citizens.

I first heard about the documentary on a Saturday morning in March.

As usual, I was awoken by one of my children crawling into our bed. It was my older daughter, who brought a book and curled up under the covers. Being the digital addict that I am, I groggily turned on my phone, and something strange was happening — a bunch of people were talking about a documentary, "Under the Dome," that had just been released in China.

Within 24 hours of its release, it had over 100 million views online. Over that first weekend in March, it had over 150 million views.


But here's the really crazy thing — it might change the game when it comes to China's relationship with the environment.



Everyone in China, from government officials to concerned parents, was watching it.

I emailed a friend of mine in China. He wrote back: "[I'm] in Beijing now. Woman next to me in Starbucks is watching it. It's huge here."

All images and GIFs via "Under the Dome," unless otherwise noted.

In a country where government censorship shuts down critical voices, how did this former journalist break through to reach over 100 million people?

Chai Jing brought the story home with a message any parent can relate to.

For Jing, the story started in Shanxi, where my paternal grandfather is also from. Growing up in Taiwan, I'd heard a few stories about Shanxi from him, but mostly I just knew of it as a place that was famous for its vinegar. These days, Shanxi is famous for something else: It's considered one of the most polluted places in the world, a result of its massive coal mining operations. But people in China aren't as surprised to hear about the effects of pollution there anymore.

At one point, early in the documentary, Jing plays a clip from an interview she conducted a decade earlier with a toddler in that province:

Absolutely heartbreaking.

But even back then, she never thought her own daughter would suffer the same thing.

When she became pregnant almost a decade later, Jing was happy to learn she was having a little girl — but her joy was threatened by terrible news:

Her unborn daughter already had a tumor.

Before she could even hold her newborn baby, the infant was whisked away for operation. Luckily, the surgery was a success, but it left Jing shaken. And it made her even more determined to truly understand the world she was bringing her daughter into.

Jing's daughter would grow up in a place with some of the most polluted air in the world.

The cleanliness of air is measured by the number of small particles (or "particulate matter") per cubic meter. According to the EPA, "small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream."

These fine particles, 1/30th as wide as the average human hair (2.5 micrometers), are the main cause of haze and reduced visibility.

They're also dangerous.

"Under the Dome" is real. Many children in China live most of their days stuck indoors to keep them safe from the polluted air.

During the year that Jing was working on the documentary, only 190 days were safe enough for her to take her daughter outside. The other 175 days were too smoggy to go outside.

Many people in China have been told the "haze" is just part of a bad weather pattern, like fog.

To demolish that myth, Jing carried around an air quality "sampling film" for 24 hours to measure the air, and she sent it to Dr. Qiu Xinghua at Peking University for analysis.

They found 14 times the acceptable level of a carcinogen, benzo(a)pyrene, in the sample.

But when it came to looking at particulate matter, even the scientist who analyzed the sample didn't believe his results. He double-checked his math, and the numbers were right.

At one point, Jing tried to go to a lab and subject herself to these levels of toxins so she could test the side effects. And, get this: The lab wouldn't let her do so because it was TOO DANGEROUS. That's right. It was TOO DANGEROUS AND UNETHICAL TO RE-CREATE INSIDE THE LAB the same conditions that millions of people live with every day in China.

Is it hopeless? Jing doesn't think so.

She points out that it wasn't that long ago that places like Pittsburgh and London had similar air pollution problems, and they overcame them.

Image from University of Pittsburgh, Smoke Control Lantern Slide Collection.

In 1952, the combination of coal smoke and a windless weather pattern killed an estimated 12,000 people and injured 100,000 in London.

If these cities can change, it's not too late for China.

It's impossible not to look at this reporter, this fiercely protective mother — who has taken all of her passion and bravely stood up to her government and to business interests — and not respect her bold decision to do her part to make a difference in the world.

This is a riveting and important documentary at a tipping point in China's history. It could have a profound effect on the course that China charts.

And China is listening.

We at Upworthy thought it was so important for English-speaking audiences to understand the power of this groundbreaking documentary, we provided an English language translation of the first and last 10 minutes of the video.

I highly recommend reading along with the beginning and end, and reading along in English by clicking the "transcript" button below the video.

Watch the first part here:

You can watch the last eight minutes here, or for the full documentary experience without having to watch it, you can also read Upworthy's summary of the documentary here.

China's air pollution is getting worse. We need to get the word out.

In early December, the smog was so thick that government authorities in China issued their first ever "red alert." This problem is not going away and we need to promote solutions and awareness.

We can help spread the word about Obama's Clean Power Plan as an example of a comprehensive solution to promote clean energy everywhere. Or you can spread the word on this massive problem. Or both. The solution is up to all of us.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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