This month’s record-breaking air pollution in Shanghai has cancelled hundreds of flights and sporting events, forced children and the elderly to remain inside for at least seven days and almost broke the scale China uses to measure air quality. But according to one journalist at CCTV, China’s national broadcaster, the smog isn’t all bad.
In an opinion piece published Monday, a CCTV journalist argues that there are five benefits of China’s smog problem: it has made Chinese people more united, equal, clear-headed, humorous and knowledgeable. United because, as Forbes reports, all people in China are now united around this common problem (which affected 40 cities last week); equal because it affects both the rich and poor; clear-headed because China is now waking up to the dangers of pollution; humorous because the smog brings out so much sarcasm among China’s residents; and knowledgeable because it’s allowed the Chinese to understand pollution in a profound way.
“Our knowledge of meteorology, geography, physics, chemistry and history has grown [because of pollution] and the standard of our English has improved too,” the CCTV author writes. “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”?”
As the Telegraph reports, the piece has drawn the ire of Chinese citizens, and thus may have proven at least one point about smog’s benefits — it provides an excellent outlet for humor.
“At first I thought this was fake news, but the article really exists,” one micro-blogger wrote. “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 wrote that, “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 [anyway].”
This isn’t the first time Chinese media have made claims about smog’s benefits in China: the Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, claimed that smog can serve as a “defensive advantage in military operations,” because it could trip up missiles that may not be able to operate as well in polluted conditions. The smog has prompted China to take steps to curb its pollution, through doubling its renewable energy sector in 2013 and launching its first carbon trading scheme.