China to Sell Canned and Bottled Air to Tourists

This is apparently not a joke. Remember “Perri-air” from the movie Spaceballs? That was a parody of what I’m sure the writers thought was a ridiculous trend—bottled water. When I was younger, many members of the older generation thought bottled water was ridiculous. Why would you need to bottle water? And why would you pay for it? You can get it anywhere for free!

And then there was O’Hare Bottled Air from the movie The Lorax. But this exaggeration was not for humor—it was a warning of what our world could become if we continue on our current path “abusing natural resources and cutting down all the trees.”

Well, I bet none of them thought a day would come when companies were actually marketing bottled air.  But that day has arrived. The Sydney Morning Herald (a fitting newspaper for this story considering its acronym “smh”) reports:

A Chinese entrepreneur is selling fresh air in soft drink cans, similar to bottled drinking water, as north China is once again choking in toxic smog.

 

The air quality index, designed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, cannot cope with levels beyond 500, which is 20 times the World Health Organisation air quality standard.

 

The [American] embassy gauge [in Beijing] had been hovering in the merely “hazardous” 300-500 range since Friday.

 

Chen Guangbiao sells his cans of air for five yuan (75¢) each. It comes in atmospheric flavours including pristine Tibet, post-industrial Taiwan and revolutionary Yan’an, the Communist Party’s early base area.

But this too might be more of a Lorax type warning:

Mr Chen told Fairfax Media he wanted to make a point that China’s air was turning so bad that the idea of bottled fresh air was no longer fanciful.

 

“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,” said Mr Chen.

Oh, and Chen is a billionaire who already sold eight million cans of air in the first ten days of marketing. So if capitalism without rule of law is the pollution problem, why not also allow it to be the pollution solution, right?