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The pictures below are from an extremely powerful exhibition by Lu Guang, a Chinese photographer, about pollution and its effects in his home country. His photos have just won a major prize from the Asia Society. While not all of China looks like what he has depicted, I have seen things exactly like what is shown in these photos, and so has anyone else who has traveled outside the big cities or visited factories and mines. Two samples from Lu Guang's work: a power plant in Inner Mongolia, then a migrant laborer in the coal regions of Shanxi province.
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These are pictures to bear in mind the next time you read a "China is an unstoppable superpower with an ability to solve all problems" story; it's worth emphasizing, as I have here and elsewhere, that there is tremendous pressure within China to change course environmentally for the survival of its own people.

Many pending messages in the queue with more info about the measurable health effects, for foreigners and Chinese citizens, of China's environmental situation. Will get to them in due course. Thanks to many people who have sent in notes about the Lu Guang photos.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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