Two hundred feet.
That's about the average distance people in Beijing, China, can see ahead of them before their vision is blurred by a thick blanket of gray and brown smog. On Tuesday, January 29, for example, the air index at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing hit 517—or roughly 20 times worse than the safe levels set by the World Health Organization.
The country's January boom in air pollution has, as one might expect, set record numbers of people to the hospital. "A pediatric clinic in downtown Beijing has treated a record 9,000 children this month, mostly flu, pneumonia, tracheitis, bronchitis and asthma patients," reports China Daily.
It is against this filthy backdrop that the above photograph makes sense—those four cans aren't filled with soda, they're pumped full of so-called clean air. This week, Chinese multimillionaire Chen Guangiao organized the tongue-in-cheek campaign to urge the government to deal with the country's air problems in a real and tangible way. Guangbiao says that his cans contain air from far-flung and pristine regions of China— Xinjiang in the northwest and Taiwan, off China's southeast coast.
Photo: Barry Huang/Reuters