Hero of the Week: Ma Jun, Chinese Anti-Pollution Activist
This week we salute Ma Jung, a former investigative reporter in China who has been pressuring the Chinese government and private companies for more than a decade to reduce pollution. For good reason, according to the World Health Organization, a staggering 1 million people in China died due to air pollution in 2016. Wow. Ma Jung started the Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs in 2006 with the goal of making environmental data accessible to Chinese citizens. Then in 2013, according to National Geographic, the Chinese government began releasing hourly data about soot (fine particulate matter) and the Institute pressed them to also release the sources of pollution. When they did, the Institute loaded the information on to online maps that allow the public to access it. Now the public can check the air quality in more than 100 Chinese cities, and the water quality of thousands of rivers, and can decide whether it is safe for kids to play outside and which factories to blame if it isn’t. We hope that someday we can say the same thing here in the U.S. And when China decreases its greenhouse gas emissions, the whole world benefits.