Chinese citizens are responding to the smog problem in a pretty funny way.

Despite Internet censorship, Beijing residents are taking to social media to poke fun at the smog problem in their city.

Remember when you were a kid, and you would wake up early on a school day, scamper over to the window, and see it snowing outside?

Remember the excitement you felt as you realized that school inevitably would be cancelled and you could spend the whole day sledding, having snowball fights, and making snowmen?

Well, imagine you’re a kid in China and school has been cancelled not because of powdery white snow but because of air pollution so bad that you can’t go outside without a major health risk.


The Beijing skyline is disappearing into the smog. Image by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.

That’s what citizens of Beijing experienced Dec. 8, 2015, when much of the city was closed due to overwhelming smog.

Traffic was restricted in the city in an effort to reduce air pollution levels. Image by AFP/STR/Getty Images.

According to the U.S. embassy there, the air quality index stood at 250 — 10 times higher than the World Health Organization's recommended levels.

The red alert in China is the first since the country started using the color-coded warning system two years ago. With it comes massive school closures, traffic restrictions, and a complete halt in outdoor construction sites, all of which lasted until midday Dec. 10.

Meanwhile, the people of Beijing have taken to social media in massive numbers to express outrage and sadness.

The social network Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like service popular in China, was blowing up this week with thousands of messages containing tags like "Air pollution red warning" and "The haze is back again again again again."

Some messages are outright angry, expressing a sense of hopelessness that this problem may never be fixed. Others, though, have chosen to laugh at how egregious the problem is, using humor to draw international attention to it.

They’re even doing it despite China’s strict Internet censorship laws and history of trying to cover up media related to the pollution problem.

One resident mocked up this picture of an ominous monster looming in between the buildings shrouded in smog:

I would go see "The Smog Monster" movie. Just saying. Image via Weibo.

And another illustrated a crude outline of where the buildings in the Beijing skyline would be … if you could see them:

Beijing! Come for the view. Leave because there's no view. Image via Weibo.

During all of this, of course, leaders from China and all over the world are convening in Paris to discuss plans to address climate change.

Air pollution and climate change aren’t political or national problems. They’re human problems.

It's easy to think of China as just some far away place or even an international rival. But there are no rivals when it comes to protecting the planet. And thanks to the people of Beijing, we can see that we’re not so different.

After all, as recently as 2002, the Los Angeles skyline looked like this:

70% of that smoke was from Snoop Dogg. Image by David McNew/Getty Images.

China and the U.S. are the two biggest polluters in the world. And as Chinese citizens on Weibo demonstrated, that's not the only thing we have in common.

Despite the Chinese government making an effort to censor open criticism from their citizens, the Chinese people are fed up with the conditions they live in.

Just like here in America, they’ve chosen to express their outrage in vast numbers and use humor to poke fun at their government.

Something we do here in America. Occasionally. And occasionally even, with great success. Here's hoping China can do the same.

Heroes
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular