Jar of clean mountain air from France sells for $845 in smog-choked Beijing

Jar of France air and Beijing smog
CC BY 2.0 Flickr

Sometimes, it takes an artist to perfectly make a point. Liang Kegang lives in Beijing, where the air is just horrible, and after spending a business trip in the south of France (a well-deserved period of respite for his lungs, no doubt), he came back with a small item to protest the smoggy conditions in his home country: A small sealed glass jar of clean Provence mountain air. To really drive his point home, he auctioned the jar before a group of about 100 Chinese artists and collectors and was paid 5,250 yuan for it ($845 at today's exchange rate).

"Air should be the most valueless commodity, free to breathe for any vagrant or beggar," Liang said in an interview. "This is my way to question China's foul air and express my dissatisfaction."

Testify, brother!

David Barrie/CC BY 2.0

Things have gotten so bad that even the authorities can't bury their head in the sand anymore. Pollution is now one of the top causes of social unrest in China, and even Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has said that it is a "major problem" and he wants the government to “‘declare war’’ on smog by removing high-emission cars from the road and closing coal-fired furnaces.

Pollution is ‘‘nature’s red-light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development,’’ Li said at the start of this year’s National People’s Congress in Beijing. ‘‘Fostering a sound ecological environment is vital for people’s lives and the future of our nation.”

Here's a video to give you an idea of the air quality in Bejing lately:

And if you think this only happens in China, look at what the U.S. was like not so long ago:

© Smoke Control Lantern Slide Collection, ca. 1940-1950, AIS.1978.22, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh.

In fact, a recent World Health Organization report concluded that air pollution now the world’s biggest environmental health risk with 7 million deaths per year. Yikes!

Via The Guardian

Tags: Air Pollution | Air Quality | Beijing | China

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