By Holly Richmond, March 24, 2014
“China’s smog is so bad” is basically the new, less-awful “Your mom is so fat” joke, since you can accurately fill in the punchline with everything from “the government can’t spy on people” to “people are cramming cigarette filters up their noses.” Newest in the canon? China’s smog is so bad you can buy “haze insurance” in case pollution messes up your vacation.
According to China Daily, online Chinese travel agency site Ctrip.com started offering smog insurance last week for visitors to Beijing, Shanghai, and four other cities. If the air pollution index gets above 200 for two or more consecutive days — and in Shanghai, it was recently above 200 for nearly half a month — insured tourists can get up to $8 a day (50 yuan). Not a lot, but the insurance only costs a buck or two per day, so you’re practically guaranteed a free lunch. (Just try not to think about the price your lungs are paying.)
Obviously there are some flaws here: When people learn to profit off pollution, nobody’s really incentivized to do anything about it. Skeptical Shanghai sales rep Tian Yiyi told China Daily she, for one, is not buying it:
First of all, it is very difficult to tell whether the air quality index has truly reflected the real conditions. Second, the premium does not go directly to tackle the heavily polluted air. I would like the money to be put to better use.Preach. Humble suggestion: Maybe it’s time to stop these wacky smog-related innovations and just tackle the problem head-on?