The other day, I was Skyping with my friend who lives in Shanghai. Upon telling him I might finally visit, he showed me around his apartment to let me know what it was like, including giving me a shot of the city from his balcony. It was really fantastic, but I inquired as to whether or not the weather is always so foggy, to which he informed me of China’s insanely bad smog problem. Up until that point, I knew air pollution in China was a serious issue, but seeing it look like literal clouds blanketing the city in haze was alarming. But, as with all horrible environmental situations, somebody decided to take advantage of the need for cleaner air.
Chinese entrepreneur and multimillionaire Chen Guangbiao is selling cans of “fresh air” from places with better air quality for 5 yuan (approximately 80 cents) each. The stunt is, according to Guangbiao, supposed to raise awareness for how terrible the pollution problem is. The air is collected and compressed from places such as Tibet, Taiwan and Yan’an. Guangbiao encourages consumers to inhale the air or, as odd as it sounds, drink it.
It’s somewhat unsurprising, as the philanthropist and apparent environmental advocate recently smashed his Mercedes and donated bikes to “awaken them with my performance art and creativity.” I don’t think smashing anything is usually a good idea; rather than sending a positive message, it kinda just makes him look like some pseudo-environmentally concerned rich asshole. But, nevertheless, he is insistent on his reasons behind these acts. ”If we don’t start caring for the environment, then after 20 or 30 years our children and grandchildren might be wearing gas masks and carry oxygen tanks,” Guangbiao said to the media.
The thing that bothers me most isn’t how bizarrely opportunistic it is over a pretty terrible situation; my issue is that it creates significantly more waste. Anything canned or individually bottled does, and to take advantage of how poor the air quality is due to pollution while simultaneously making more is not an environmentally responsible thing to do whatsoever. At a time when planes are literally grounded in China and people are told to stay home due to smog levels, you would thing that a man who describes himself as an environmentalist might recognize the importance of having just a bit more respect for the significance of landfills, but alas, no.