Over the years, there have been a number of proposals put forward about how to address Beijing’s air quality problems from smog-sucking towers, bikes, and vacuum cleaners to simply banning every single last barbeque from within city limits. So far, none of these ideas have worked, but we have a really good feeling about this next one.
A Chinese man named Du Honglai has submitted a patent application for his “Fan Away Smog Plan” — which would work exactly like it sounds: Du proposes that Beijing’s population be mobilized, given large handheld fans, and instructed to all fan them in the same direction to drive harmful airborne particulates out of China’s capital city.
It’s so crazy that it just might work… or it’s at least worth a try!
In his proposal, Du claims that 15 million people fanning at the same time in the same direction for one hour can move 1.08 trillion cubic meters of air one meter, creating powerful winds that would blow a giant mass of air 68 kilometers away, thus clearing up the city’s smoggy skies.
He touts this method as both “low-cost” and “effective,” noting that it would create no secondary pollution that could harm the environment.
As for the logistics, Du says that the government could use radio, television, and text messaging to notify people when they are needed. Citizens could head to designated meeting places where officials would hand out fans. The more the merrier. His application even includes different fan designs for all ages and physical conditions.
Du submitted his proposal in March earlier this year, but it is only now making headlines after being dug up by a hardworking Legal Daily reporter earlier this week, much to the delight of Chinese netizens who have gleefully mocked the idea. Here are some comments taken from a thread posted by a popular Weibo account focusing on Beijing news:
“I’m afraid that soon there won’t be 15 million people in Beijing.”
“First, 15 million people gather in Beijing and then fan the smog towards Langfang. After that, they take a train or bus to Langfang and fan the smog again towards Jinan before heading there, and so on until they finally arrive in Qingdao and fan towards Japan.”
“15 million people all take a deep breath at the same time and suck in the haze. That seems easier.”
“What will happen when a fan war breaks out between the people of Beijing and Hebei?”
“If 15 million people all pee at the same time will a lake not form?”
“My plan is more economical, I only need 14.99 million people.”
According to an official at the State Intellectual Property Office, Du’s patent is still in the initial stages of the process and has not yet entered “essential review.” There’s some minute possibility that it could make it past that stage, but don’t hold your breath.