Hilarious Video Shows How Humans Evolve to Deal With China’s Toxic Smog

Thanks to air pollution, growing long nose hairs becomes the norm.
Mar 3, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

The sight of people wearing surgical face masks in public to avoid breathing dirty air is so common in China, the masks have even been spotted on the catwalks at fashion shows. But thanks to evolution—and a new video—in the future, folks might be able to skip the masks entirely.

In the above PSA—the aptly titled “Hairy Nose”—from wildlife conservation group WildAid, the “survivors of the pollution age” sport luxuriously long nasal hairs, which protect people from inhaling pollutants from coal fires and vehicle tailpipes.

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Chinese culture has also changed so that it revolves around grooming and styling these nose hairs. In the clip, hipsters on the subway sport hairs dyed and braided in rainbow colors or turned into handlebar moustaches. In one scene, the nose hairs are used as a third arm to reject a gift. The video also shows people doing tai chi in thick smog and strolling through a hazy park. “To them, this is just the way it is,” reads one of the video’s captions.

According to a survey by WildAid, about 90 percent of people living in China say they are concerned about poor air quality. It’s no wonder given that in recent months red alert pollution days have obscured the sun in Beijing, and fireworks were banned in several cities during Chinese New Year.

The pollution isn’t just changing Chinese culture—it’s killing people too. A study released in August by Berkeley Earth found that 1.6 million people per year are dying in the country from breathing filthy air.

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“Air pollution is the number one environmental and health concern in urban China, but most people are waiting for the government to enact change or improve the situation,” May Mei, WildAid’s chief China representative, said in a statement. “It’s important that individuals know they have a role to play too.”

At the end of the PSA, we see one young man who trims his nose hair, thus refusing to accept pollution as the new normal. “Change air pollution before it changes you,” reads the last caption. It ends with the same recommendation promoted in other smog-plagued cities, such as Paris and Los Angeles: Ditch those exhaust-spewing cars, and take up bicycling.