By William Thomas
Gearing up for the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris this December, the world’s largest polluting countries are in full promise mode. In a global effort to reduce carbon emissions in the earth’s atmosphere, the United States and China, the world’s biggest polluters, have promised to double their previous rates of reduction, by 2025 and 2030 respectively. Recently, India and China have promised to submit plans before the Paris conference outlining joint carbon-reducing targets.
In Canada we are doing nothing to combat greenhouse gases and extreme weather except denying the science they’re based on. Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to see way more starving polar bears and drowned caribou before he takes climate change seriously. By the time he does face reality the Canadian Arctic will be a serious threat to Cuba as a year-round, warm-weather tourist destination.
With the World Health Organization attributing 7 million deaths annually to air pollution, in the struggle to clean its own atmosphere, you have to give China credit for trying . Even if their concepts and devices tend to be somewhat on the wacky side.
In central China, the city of Wuhan is considering building skyscrapers coated with a high-tech chemical that can “eat” air pollutants. I’m no expert in atmospheric dry-cleaning but if a chemical can eat carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, wouldn’t it just love to have your lung for lunch?
One Chinese researcher in Beijing is working on an “urban wind passage” that would regulate the height and density of buildings so the smog has a “dispersal channel.” If it works, death tolls would drop in Beijing but increase in the suburbs. That’s like the old “non-peeing section of the swimming pool.”
Another researcher has come up with a dress with sensors which would tell the wearer exactly how toxic the air is surrounding her body. No word of a male garment so if this product does work, for the sake of their health, men will have to take up cross-dressing.
One scientist is proposing to send up drones to freeze the polluted particulates and watch them fall to earth. But then you gotta shovel that stuff, eh?
In a country where you can often see the air but not across the street, the schemes to clean up atmospheric pollution are unlimited and quite artistic. In a city where almost everybody wears breathing masks in public, an artist is planning on sucking toxic particulates out of Beijing’s filthy sky using a giant vacuum-cleaner-type device and then creating jewelry from the crystallized contaminants he collects. If this one works, the artist could become the world’s first city-to-city vacuum salesman. Jewelry from junk in the air? Not so far-fetched when you consider that your body can now be cremated and then synthesized into a small, blue diamond which someday your grandchildren will likely sell in a lawn sale.
Another artist, this one British and living in Beijing has invented the “air-purifying bicycle” from a generator, a fighter-pilot’s mask, some hoses and filters, a motorcycle helmet and an IKEA wastebasket. He claims it delivers fresh air to the rider while peddling through the streets of the capital. Even if it does work the bicyclist runs the risk of being mistaken for a suicide bomber.
Yet another artist, this one Dutch is creating an electrostatic vacuum cleaner which employs copper coils to attract pollution particles from the air. It looks like a giant hula hoop creates a clear, clean path of air high above the operating machine. It is not designed to enhance the quality of the air, only to remind people in China what clean air used to look like!?!
In Beijing you can now trade in your breathing mask for a pack of “Filterettes.” With eight in a pack for ten bucks, you inhale through the filtered, unlit cigarette like a smog snorkel thereby delivering cleaner air to your respiratory system. It doesn’t tell you where you point the cigarettes to obtain clean air. I’m guessing you aim it towards that urban wind tunnel or stick it into the IKEA wastebasket.
From the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences comes the top secret “Artificial Fog Removal” program that nobody will breathe a word about. We can only hope it’s not a typo and the Chinese government is about to exterminate every garden ornament in the country that looks like a frog.
One unique cleansing plan will have city workers in Beijing installing huge shower heads on the top of tall buildings to literally wash the smog out of the air. The spinoff success story will be an enterprising guy on the street with a bucket of soapy water and a brush – “Huang’s Parked Car Wash.” I have to admit, I do love an outside shower but with soap, not soot.
As valiant as these anti-pollution endeavors are, I have my doubts about a nation of people who do not speak to their neighbours because they cannot see them but are attempting to create clean, fresh air from hula hoops and motorcycle helmets. The world may well be doomed, having waited way too long to rid the planet of its fatal fever, but the Chinese? They’re going out with a giggle.
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