Breathe Deep, Comrade, For You Will Become More Intelligent!


Automology’s columnist, MAC, starts his article about smog and then ends with…soup?

China is gripped by the Airpocalypse.

The lung clogging smog in China that has closed down schools, factories and air transport, and is shortening the lives of millions (see our earlier report about the smog in China) is hitting the news headlines again, but this time for the positive benefits that it is bringing to the population.

No, no, this isn’t another case of Mac going nutty again. This is for real. Well, at least if you believe state-controlled Chinese media.

In 2 separate ‘editorials’ – okay, okay, I will call them what they are – state-sponsored propaganda pieces, a CCTV journalist had the temerity to actually claim that the air pollution has some ‘major benefits’, such as making the people more united and humourous.

The piece claims that whilst the filthy air is a dangerous enemy, it is bringing together people from all walks of life and is therefore creating a more equal society, as it affects the lungs of both rich and poor, and has become a boon for comics as people try to make light of the situation.

In fact, the full list ran something like this:

  1. It’s united the public against a common enemy.
  2. A great equaliser, it damages the lungs of both the rich and the poor.
  3. It’s given the nation time to reflect on the consequences of its economic boom.
  4. Everyone’s sense of humour is coming out as people turn to jokes and sarcasm to deflect from the very real sense of crisis (and that very sense of humour is somehow ‘the source of strength for defeating the smog’).
  5. At the same time that it’s making everyone more prone to serious health problems, it’s also making them smarter.


A separate report actually claimed that the smog is good for Chinese defensive capabilities, claiming that missiles can’t find their targets if they cannot see them. Hmm…perhaps someone should remind the author of that particularly stupid report that:

i) China is not currently at war with anyone and, thus, is not trying to dodge missiles and
ii) modern missiles use things like radar that can see through the fog of war and other man-made pollutants like SMOG.

The environmental group, Greenpeace, blamed much of the pollution on coal-fired power stations and factories in the eastern provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui and Shandong, and not the poor, old automobile as everyone seems to be so quick to blame.

In a previous report featured, we highlighted how the smog season really kicked off just about the same time as the community coal-fired heating furnaces were fired up; the port city of Harbin had to close schools and shut down shops virtually the day after the system was turned on this year (read about it in our earlier article).

The news piece could be said to have really irritated pollution-weary, micro-bloggers in the country with more than 80 000 Internet users commenting on the article within 2 hours of its publication.

“At first I thought this was fake news, but the article really exists,” wrote one. “Then I thought it was satire, but after reading the article I found that the writer did indeed hold these views. In the end, I opened the window and inhaled a big breath of Socialist happiness.”

Another, presumably a lady, offered, “The first benefit of haze that comes to my mind is saving money on foundation since my boyfriend can’t see the defects on my face.”

The Chinese government has actually taken steps to curb air pollution. Earlier this year, state media announced that the government would invest some RMB1.7 trillion (about USD279 billion) to combat the country’s smog problem. In October, China also announced that it would offer rewards to regions that make similar investments to fight air pollution.

The somewhat deranged author of the definitely misguided report claims at one point, “Our knowledge of meteorology, geography, physics, chemistry and history has grown and the standard of our English has improved too. Without this haze, would you know what PM2.5 was? Would you know that 60 years ago the haze claimed 12 000 lives in London? Would you even know the words ‘haze’ and ‘smog’?”

For some really obscure reason, rather than face up to the responsibility of their inaction, authorities have been trying to shift blame onto the Chinese population. They also seem to incorrectly reference the smogs of London, also known as The Great Smog, of the 1950s and 1960s that allegedly killed perhaps 12 000 people, but the fact is that it was really only in 1952.

I grew up in the 1960s in London and I do not know what a London Pea Souper is, as the choking pollution-laden fogs became known as, unless you are talking about a particular type of soup that legend would have us believe was so thick, they named the smog after it.

Get the recipe for the soup here. And you thought this was a motoring BLOG!

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