This post originally appeared on AddictingInfo.org.
No, this is absolutely not an Onion article but you’d be forgiven for thinking that it is. China’s capital, Beijing, has become so polluted with smog that the air has become dangerous to breath. People are so desperate for a literal “breath of fresh air” that they’ve started to literally buy air in a can:
The city recommended that schools stay closed, and residents take public transit instead of driving or walking. Those who did step out were encouraged to wear masks — and some turned to ordering the air canisters created by Troy Paquette and Moses Lam.
The pair stumbled into the business venture in 2014 after talking to friends who were frequent visitors to Asia and would tell them about poor air quality in China, specifically.
As an experiment, the two captured as much air as they could in a large Ziploc freezer bag, closed it, and put it on eBay—it eventually sold for 99 cents. Their second attempt started a bidding war, someone bought the bag for an astounding $168, sparking the idea for what’s now Vitality Air.
Beijing is similar to Los Angeles in that the geography and local climate trap the bad air and produces toxic smog. Decades ago, California mandated emissions reductions that the auto industry, with the help of corporate friendly politicians, fought tooth and nail. They lost and the air quality is now vastly improved. You’d think that would prove that regulating industrial pollution is beneficial but that’s not how American politics work. Instead, an industry is responsible for some kind of deadly pollution, the public wants it cleaned up and then the industry buys politicians to block any law that would enact the will of the people (and cost the industry money). Rinse, repeat.
To see the kind of blind eye corporate money can buy, simply look at the GOP’s war on the Environmental Protection Agency. The entire function of the EPA is clean up or prevent the kind of nightmare Beijing is experiencing. Yet, Republicans want to defund or outright eliminate the EPA. Sure, they’ve cleaned up the country so much that most people under the age 40 have never seen ariver catch fire and think “Love Canal” is a romantic boat ride at a carnival, but what has the EPA done for America lately? Not much other than continue to fight against corporations spewing toxic crap into our air, water and land. Clearly, this attack on Corporate America’s bottom line must be stopped!
The fact that the Chinese are so desperate to breath fresh air that they’re turned a throw-away joke form the movie Spaceballs into a thriving business should be a wake up call to the United States that pollution is no laughing matter. But I guess unlimited money in elections can buy a lot of zipped lips even as children are choking on smog.
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