Friday, November 04, 2016

Air supply and demand

While we don’t have the world’s best air quality – that would be Iceland and Canada – mostly it’s pretty okay, thanks, of course, to the Clean Air Act. Yes, there are still some places where you can bite the air – cities like Bakersfield and Modesto in California’s Central Valley, where, because of the geographical configuration, big city pollution wafts in and gets trapped.

But we’re not in Zabol, Iran, which has the world’s worst air. (And, I’m guessing the world’s worst, or nearly so, when it comes to plenty of other things we take for granted). Or in Beijing, which – while it’s not among the absolute worst in terms of air quality – still has plenty of days when residents are advised to stay inside and/or to wear masks.

But help is on the way. If you want to buy a breath of fresh air, there are a number of bottlers lining up to sell it to you. You can get a six-pack of Bondi Beach air from an Australia’s Green and Clean, which VA_Air_8L_5packconsider themselves air farmers. At $46.15 a six-pack (roughly $35 US), this is something of a bargain. But if Bondi Beach isn’t to your liking.  Vitality Air sells Canadian Rockies air from Banff. Alas, no distributor on the East Coast. There are a couple out West, where they have more of a problem. But you can order a five-pack online for $130 Canadian (about $98 US). Pricier than the Australian, but, then again, Canadian air is better than Australian air.

For those who want to go even more upscale, Aethaer is selling more rarified air. Or at least something bottled in a more precious way. aethaerI mean, who wouldn’t be willing to pay 80 British pounds ($100 US) for a pint o’ Dorset air?

The company’s 28-year-old founder, Leo De Watts, said he hoped buyers would come to regard his product as a collectible, like a “sculpture or a limited-edition print made by an artist.”

“Clean air is actually a very rare commodity,” he said. (Source: NY Times, by ungated way of the Honolulu Star Advertiser.)

After this build up, I really did need to see what Aethaer has to say for itself:

AETHAER is collected from fresh natural air flowing over a range of prime locations, from fertile lush pastures and wild untouched meadows, to wind-kissed hilltops and heavenly snow-capped mountains. AETHAER is filtered organically by nature as it flows between the leaves of woodland trees, absorbs pristine water as it passes over babbling brooks and forest streams, and is lovingly caressed as it rolls over and between mineral rich rock formations, after which it is blown up over vistas of untouched beauty to where the AETHAER is collected and bottled.

Wind-kissed hilltops. Heavenly snow-capped mountains. Babbling brooks. Lovingly caressed.

Somebody could use a copy-writer who doesn’t specialize in purple prose. Just sayin’.

And for all the grandiose, la-di-da talk, Aethaer looks to me like a Mason jar with some printing on it. Not exactly “sculpture or a limited-edition print.” And, at $100 a Mason jar, I’d say it’s about $85 over my gag-gift limit.

Anyway, I’m trying to envision how the air is collected, and the only image I can come up with is butterfly nets which, for obvious reasons, wouldn’t work.

Bottled air is just one of a number of “pollution-fighting tools” that are increasingly coming to market in the polluted precincts of China and India. Most of them are a bit more down-to-earth than bottled air.

Bottled air is one of the least practical but most talked-about ideas. It can hardly replace the local atmosphere – one person would require at least eight to 10 bottles a minute to breathe. But residents in smoggy places are snapping up the stuff anyway.

Eight to ten bottles a minute? Even with the low-end Bondi Beach air, that comes up to about $3K/hour.

Of course, users don’t breathe it regularly, but limit themselves to a few hits a month. But some of those who do so believe it does make them feel better.

Still, it’s hard to believe that this is going to be all that much of a market for these cans, bottles, and jars of air. If things get that bad, wouldn’t it be cheaper just to get yourself an oxygen tank?

Once again, a big gulp of pure air thanks to my sister Kath for pointing this article out to me.

1 comment:

trixie said...

So is Leo De Watts of Aethaer related to PT "There's a sucker born every minute" Barnum? Ridiculous as it is, I can see with the other brand's bottles you could take a "hit" of air and still keep some in the bottle, but once you crack open that "art" mason jar, wouldn't all the air escape back to the wind-kissed hills from whence it came?