Lu Gang is a Chinese photographer who has spent his career photographing the devastation of industrialized China.
A month ago Lu Gang disappeared.
The Chinese government is very careful to censor any expose of the country that makes life there look less than rosy. As Wikipedia says Lu Gang’s “stories on pollution and environmental destruction cover topics traditionally under-reported due to the risk of punishment by the Chinese government.”
It seems this risk-taking to expose the truth of environmental and human abuses in China has caught up with him.
We here in the USA and in other “developed” countries are culpable for much of China’s environmental destruction as we have outsourced the dirtiest manufacturing, mining, and waste disposal to China. As China was focused intensely on growth above all else during the 80’s, 90′, and 2000’s we imported more steel, cement, and commercial goods from factories in China, losing jobs, cleaning up our own pollution, and reducing our own CO2 emissions in the process.
The US is proud to proclaim our emissions are declining. But if you include emissions produced by trade, our emissions have increased, along with the rest of the world. We simply pushed them off onto China, India, and other developing countries with weak pollution and environmental laws.
The realities of the environmental impacts our consumer goods, our steel, concrete, minerals and metals, computers, phones, solar panels, and wind turbines are largely hidden from our view because these dirty industrial manufacturing and mining processes have been transferred to countries that are very good at hiding the associated environmental and social impacts.
Lu Gang spent his career trying to expose what our incessant need for more stuff, more growth is doing to his country.
And now, he may be paying the ultimate price for his work.
All the photographs on this post are by Lu Gang (except his portrait). China would prefer that you didn’t see them. Look at them. See them. Understand that it is our profligate lifestyle that is causing the devastation depicted in these photos.