The Dirtiest Place on the Planet

The Dirtiest Place on the Planet

Ratings: 8.46/10 from 63 users.

The Dirtiest Place on the PlanetIt is the city of Linfen, China and spending about a day there breathing in the air is about the same as smoking three packs of cigarettes.

The scary part is that there's a lot of cities in China like this. Sixteen out of the world's 20 most polluted cities are in China.

Linfen produces what any nation of over a billion people need - a ton of energy. It's an endless landscape of factories all spewing a bunch of toxic chemicals into the air and poisoning the land and the water.

There's no clouds, just a permanent toxic smog hovering over the city. Linfen is located in the heart of Shanxi Province. Every day, thousands of coal trucks go between Linfen and the rest of China's cities. Then they come back empty for more.

China suffers from both local problems and global environmental challenges. So the combined impacts of climate change and local pollution are causing enormous consequences. A lot of the environmental problems in China are very closely linked to the energy consumption.

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30 Comments / User Reviews

  1. foxylauramoore//Sheep1234

    maybe we should just turn vegan?

    1. John The Fisherman

      maybe chinese kids should learn more about the environment in their schools instead of just how to use an abacus.

  2. foxylauramoore//Sheep1234

    everyone just show love and give hugs.
    All the problems will be solved.
    dont get so angry my dudes, thats just what the leaders of the world want. i had an idea to build the world biggest sewing kit and serw the ozone together? why caant it be thsat easy. love you my dudes. stay peaceful, stay you. my dudes.

  3. foxylauramoore//Sheep1234

    be cool guys, be cool

  4. Joe Wong

    This video is just a small drop in the bucket of the continuous Western propaganda to smear China using selective reporting. Comparing to the same stage of the industrialization, UK, USA and other developed nations were in much worse situation than China. London was notorious for big stink and no day light city, Londoners spewed out black lumps day in day out, while the photos of USA in the old days oil and gold mining rush looked like hell.

    This video is made by the people with a mindset belonging to the past, stalled in the old days of colonialism and constrained by the zero-sum cold war mentality, they cannot stop China from developing but they are trying very hard to freeze China in the image of their fabricated orientalism, old days of colonialism and cold war demonization.

    Even Linfen has bad air, but it is still thousands times better than during the era of hundred-years-of-humilation, during that time Chinese was treated with contempt, exploited without mercy, starving, disease, westerner imposed Opium infestation, proverty, ... all kind of abuses and harm inflicted to Chinese physically, mentally and culturally. The West committed war crimes and crimes against humanity against Chinese as well as China the land with impunity on the moral high ground. Without the West's damage and harm done to China in the last hundred years, Linfen people will not have to endure such bad environment in order to build a strong China that can stop the West inflicting harm on China again.

  5. winter

    global warmig is the agenda of the nuclear power industry - why? follow the money

  6. mr guy1435

    This film gives good insight into the coal industry in China as it offers the view of how the coal industry brings money into the Chinese economy but also how the coal industry effects the people currently living in the city of Linfen. The people there have since developed lung and stomach cancer and this documentary does a good job at covering that. I would of like to see more interviews from both sides to get a larger picture but overall it was a good documentary.

  7. Richard Neva

    Pittsburg PA looked just like this in 1948. I two minute walk would coat your face black! Isn't Communism wonderful? We will return to this when America is fully a Communist nation!

    1. race_to_the_bottom

      That's because Pittsburg was making our steel. Now, our steel, and the products made from it, are made in China.

  8. Kennyken

    Crazy..they had a madman in charge in Mao who's programs of industrialisation actually set the countries development back by decades in the Great Leap Forward..well the costs of that madness are well documented. This is more of the same, another headlong leap by the country that will also have it's effects in the years to come. Look at Russia and the problems it has now, the country is so polluted from Its command and control Cold War economy that lifespans have fallen through the floor today.

    1. Martin Miljkovic

      hi, haven't heard that about russia pollution, could you plz share the source?

  9. kay

    An image of a nuclear cooling tower when showing factory smokestacks that contribute to air pollution is inappropriate. Pure water vapor comes out of cooling towers. Duh. Someone should have caught that.

    1. race_to_the_bottom

      Its not a "nuclear cooling tower". Coal fired plants use cooling towers too.

  10. Malik

    I was excited to watch this documentary but I had to end it when 5 min in someone from Greenpeace appeared in it...

  11. panthera f

    Good to know, that if the USA and China doesn't DO something about it, they are the first to choke on their own filth.

    1. Richard Nixon

      USA? The US has a low pollution-particle account. Actually lower than much of Europe. And a low death rate attributed to pollution. Look up "pm10 by country" and "Countries Ranked by Air Pollution".

      So do some research.

  12. Sy2502

    Interesting documentary, although the commentator made a couple of less than smart observations. For example, comparing food grown in the dirtiest area in the world with American, FDA approved food, which apparently, is grown in labs (oh really?). If this person doesn't even understand the vastness of the gulf of difference between the two, he isn't the proverbially sharpest tool. The same goes for the other comment about how, at least, in Linfen, at night, one can see the stars. Well I am sure this gentleman will soon be moving there permanently, so he can watch the stars while breathing the equivalent of 3 packs of smokes a day. American enviromental simpletons (which is a small but vocal portion of the American environmentalists at large) insist in criticizing America while places like China are absolutely appalling. I wonder when they are going to go after the real polluters for a change, instead of berating the American pubblic.

    1. Ellen Johnston

      Wasn't that a joke, i.e., the stars (the entertainers) come out onto the hotel stage? I don't believe the "commentator" wanted to leave his audience with a glowing review of the city, rather he didn't want to completely blame the citizens of the community but rather show that these people are coping with government sanctioned practices.

  13. Jeff

    I am glad i clocked in here, Underpaid employees or just do not Pay or even recognize you as a human being i have run into this here in the good ol U.S.A
    play little games with employees C.E.O's worth Millions Play games like small children Na Na Na I am rich you are not i'm going to behave in a manner consistent with an eight year old child i would be happy to give more info

  14. DigiWongaDude

    Don't know if it's ok to say this but, at the end of this doc, is a link to another VICE one about a couple living in isolation in Alaska. Bloomin' great too!

  15. AllanA

    Well looks like someone can use some American PR people that can turn these frowns into smiles. These PR people been working hard in the USA conning people into things like "clean coal" and pointing out that they've reduced their use of generating CO2 (by buying energy sources from someone that isn't a part of their CO2 generation, but this is another story).

    Oh yeah, another great story from VICE. Thank you guys yet again! Keep them coming and seriously, I don't know what I'd watch if it wasn't for you guys!!!!

  16. DigiWongaDude

    @ 05:44 (part 2) USA = fracking flaming tapwater? China = flammable boogers?

  17. DigiWongaDude

    The west can't deny the east the opportunity to gain the power accumulated by the west (from polluting), BECAUSE the west hasn't cleaned up its own damage. It would be hypocrisy, and all China would have to say is they have plans to clean up their own mess, and we should concentrate on ours.

    You can't TELL a sovereign nation what to do when it's acting in it's own best interest. They will simply refuse.

    We all use the cheap exports and so international pressure on them, through sanctions etc., won't work as retaliations would swiftly follow.

    ...So create a pot of money accrued internationally for pollution control (just print the damn stuff already, and don't bail out banks!) Half goes on the cleanup of existing plants and half goes on grants to encourage emerging nations to use cleaner methods. Okay, not half, but split it up proportionally. Except Germany, amongst others, won't pay out for that too, indeed why should they?

    ...So make each country pay for their own pollution footprints. Except the U.S. refuses to pay its way (proportionally), paving the way for others to do as they wish too, citing the U.S. as the reason for non-compliance.

    ...Okay, so punish though who refuse to do their bit, for setting bad examples for others. But everyone's spent all their money and are indebted to the hilt, intentionally perhaps? The whole world is broke, polluted, unemployed and/or starving. Apart from a fraction of 1% who think everything's just groovy the way it is.

    Oh well at least they banned smoking in public places. :-/

  18. Imightberiding

    You got yours' so I'm gonna get mine! Does this attitude in this day & age justify something that is blatantly wrong? Of course the developed western nations of the world are guilty of countless atrocities against this planet & her people. Should we not be aware & perhaps past this point?

    Does China's assault on the environment somehow become justified because of all that was done prior to their modern/industrialized development? Of course they need to support their massive population & industries that provide products for the rest of the world. Does that mean they should ignore the harms of the past & continue on the same path?

    Should we allow what the catholic church & colonizing nations did to the world outside their borders again? Didn't we all learn from these past mistakes? Why then are countries as advanced & technologically savvy as China allowed to carry on with a process we all know to be wrong & harmful?

    Perhaps the answer lies in "not my back yard". As long as it isn't effecting the rest of the developed nations & they are still getting all the "stuff" their hearts desire, what is the harm in that? After all, it's just a bunch of cheep, uneducated labour suffering at the fore front of this health & climate crisis. It hasn't directly reached our countries yet so in the mean time I will continue to type away on my lap top as we all answer important calls on our I-phones while wearing the latest jeans & fashions that we look so good in.

    If this was happening in the west it would not be tolerated. In fact I would say it is far past ever happening in the west again. (I hope) We have already done our damage & hopefully learned from it. Now we have regulations in place to strive towards a better future & do our best not to repeat past mistakes. Non of us gives a flying ph#ck about the lives of millions of desperate hard working people a world away. So they continue to replicate the past industrial revolution, they suffer & we reap the benefits.

    We all yearn for times past. London's air is far cleaner now than a hundred years ago. China certainly knows this, yet they continue on as though there is no tomorrow. There won't be if they don't stop with archaic ideas of providing energy to make a buck at the expense of their people & the planet.

    Can you grab that Starbucks latte for me? I gotta check my email & my cell phone is ringing.

  19. brianrose87

    If you want a reason for why the world cannot agree on limiting greenhouse emissions this video shows why.

    The U.S. and other developed countries have emitted the largest aggregate amount of carbon over the last 250 years. Developing countries are the areas of the current growth of carbon emissions. Each side has an equally valid argument.

    Should we limit CO2 emissions on total emissions since 1800, or should we limit their growth from this moment forward? This is a rhetorical question because neither option is politically possible.

    China now emits more CO2 than the U.S. The rate of growth of China's emissions are putting our world on a dangerous path, but in terms of total emitted carbon since 1800 the U.S. exceeds China by orders of magnitude.

    1. PaulGloor

      You would think though that developing nations would look at it squarely and say, we can do better than the US, learn from their mistakes and build upon innovation which is available.
      All this is is a grab for power through fast economic growth. Instant gratification.

      When everyone hates the US so much, why does everyone want to be like them ?

    2. BrughKart

      They hate the US because they ARENT like the US. I know how that may sound but take it with an open mind, I'm not american, but it IS the conclusion that I have come to. Countries that have a higher standard of living than the US generally never bad mouth it or point out its flaws. That sort of thing only seems to come from people whose standard of living, and their nations economy in general, are still catching up.

    3. DigiWongaDude

      @ BrughKart: Are you talking about U.S. pollution policy hate only? Because to say that is to belittle much of the outrage of the world to simple envy or trivial negative jealously. I say outrage because hate evolves from a developed fear. On behalf of that outrage, I respectfully disagree. There is much to be outraged about.

      (I know you were responding to PaulGloor, whose question sets up a rhetorical envy or jealousy conclusion too)