Billionaire Chen Guangbiao is taking China’s air pollution problem into his own hands – by launching a line of canned air. In a move that rivals a scene out of Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs, the entrepreneur has created a line of designer air and is selling it for market consumption to raise awareness of the thick smog that has become the norm in Beijing. As North China’s air quality has pushed the limits of the Air Quality Index over the past month, Guangbiao hopes his canned air stunt will snap leaders into accepting the hazardous reality of Beijing’s air pollution problem.
Blankets of smog envelop the city of Beijing, which has an alarming concentration of airborne PM 2.5 particulates. Since last Friday these small, harmful toxins have measured at amounts twenty times higher than the World Health Organization air quality standard.
Guangbiao’s tongue-in-cheek attempt to quickly raise awareness stems from his very realistic fear that China’s air quality could deteriorate so drastically in 20 or 30 years that navigating the streets would be impossible without gas masks or oxygen tanks. The quirky campaign features a line of the canned air in “flavors” that reference less industrial times or regions, such as pristine Tibet, post-industrial Taiwan and revolutionary Yan’an. The entrepreneur, whose fortune is valued at $740 million, is also a heavy advocate of bicycle riding over driving – in the past he has given away 5,000 bikes to citizens to further his point.
With PM 2.5 particulates at an all-time high, Guangbiao’s canned air stunt, may foreshadow a harsh reality in the future if no action is taken. Guangbiao has faced criticism and is accused of pulling the stunt just to further his own business, but the unlikely environmentalist has the power to bring media attention to some very serious issues.
Images via Wikimedia Commons