‘Spaceballs’ Gag Is Now Reality: Eccentric Chinese Millionaire Selling Canned Air in Smog-Filled Beijing

If you haven’t heard, the air pollution in Beijing, China, is now nearly off the charts — we mean literal charts, specifically the pollution gauge at the American Embassy. The gauge there has been hovering in the 300 to 500 range (“hazardous”) lately, the worst levels on record in the area. For comparison, a level of 500 would be 2000% more pollution than the WHO’s quality standard. Why an English rock band gets to decide these standards, I Can’t Explain.

Chen Guangbiao, an entrepreneur and environmentalist with an estimated net worth of $740 million, has started selling cans of clean air to Beijing residents for five yuan (80 cents) per can. Proceeds go to charity. The canned air comes in three “flavors” including pristine Tibet, post-industrial Taiwan, and revolutionary Yan’an.

The stunt is intended to draw attention to the pollution problem, and I guess it worked ’cause we’re talking about it. Other stunts Chen Guangbiao has performed in the past month include demolishing a Mercedes Benz and giving away 5,000 bicycles to persuade people to drive less often. In the past he’s also showered earthquake victims with 100 yuan ($16) bills.

Chen explains, “People say I am high profile or love to stage a show, but I don’t think those who seek ‘stability’ and a low profile can do much for social progress.”

Shine on, you crazy diamond.

[Sources: Brisbane Times, Technabob, Geekologie]