polluted atmosphere (actual photo)

without pollution (retouched photo)

The Price Of Progress

Fengxian Si, Longmen Caves
Luoyang, Henan Province

In 2006, most places in China that we visited were covered with a choking blanket of foul haze, as seen in the unretouched photograph above; the cleaned-up image is to the right. The polluted fog, which inspires a brisk trade in dust masks among foreign visitors and native Chinese alike, originates from the burning of fossil fuels for power generation and transportation. Its root cause is China's headlong rush to industrial power and economic might, upon which the country's geopolitical future, and the well-being of its 1.3 billion people, depends.

The digitally reprocessed image, to the right, is a more hopeful vision of what things might look like if the pollution here is ever cleaned up. The choice, after all, is ours.