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如何對付霧霾?吸一口瓶裝空氣!

The entrepreneurs making money out of thin air
如何對付霧霾?吸一口瓶裝空氣!

Whether enveloped by the thick smog from factories or choked with invisible poisons from vehicle exhausts, many cities around the world are losing the battle against air pollution.

世界各地的許多城市都在對抗空氣污染的斗爭中敗北,有的被工廠排放的厚重濃煙籠罩,有的被汽車尾氣的隱形毒氣滲透。

Somewhere between 5.5 million and seven million people die from breathing in the smoke, harmful gases and soot being pumped into the atmosphere. In China and India, the toll of this toxic air is particularly alarming, causing three million deaths in those two countries alone.

約有550萬至700萬人死于空氣中的煙霧、有害氣體和煙塵。在中國和印度,空氣污染程度尤其嚴重,僅這兩個國家大約就有300萬人因此死亡。

This is leading some out-of-breath citizens to go to extraordinary lengths: they are turning to bottled air.

一些喘不過氣來的城市居民開始尋找各種奇葩方案:他們甚至轉向瓶裝空氣。

A growing number of companies are compressing and bottling fresh countryside air and selling it online. It sounds like a joke (and it has been in the past) but the idea is to raise awareness and provide people with fresh air – at a price.

越來越多的公司開始在網上出售壓縮過的瓶裝新鮮空氣。這聽起來像個笑話(以前也的確是個笑話),但這種想法的目的是提高人們的環保意識,并為他們提供新鮮空氣——但要支付一定的費用。

One such company is Vitality, based in Edmonton, Alberta, which collects air from the Canadian Rockies and compresses it into containers.

其中一家公司名叫Vitality,總部位于加拿大阿爾伯塔省埃德蒙頓市,他們專門從加拿大落基山脈收集空氣,然后壓縮到容器里對外出售。

A single eight-litre bottle of compressed Canadian air – which comes with a specially designed spray cap and mask – holds around 160 breaths and costs C$32 ($24) per bottle.

一瓶8升的加拿大壓縮空氣——配有特制的噴射蓋和面具——大約可以呼吸160次,每瓶售價32加元(24美元)。

Chief executive Moses Lam started the business to sell the canned air as joke gifts, but demand for the product took off in a surprising way. He says China, India and South Korea have become the company’s principal markets. “Our target markets are places choked with polluted air, and where many people actually pass away prematurely due to pollution.

該公司首席執行官莫塞斯·拉姆(Moses Lam)創辦這家企業時,是想把罐裝空氣作為一種開玩笑的禮物來銷售,但實際需求的旺盛程度卻出人意料。他表示,中國、印度和韓國成為該公司的主要市場。"我們目標市場的空氣污染都很嚴重,那里有很多人因為污染而早逝。"

“Our air is simply an experience that many within China and India will not get to experience,” says Lam.

"對于很多生活在中國和印度的人來說,我們的空氣確實是十分難得的體驗。"拉姆說。

He now sells 10,000 bottles a month in China and hopes to grow that number to 40,000. They have just started operating in India, where they hope to sell 10,000 bottles a month.

他目前每天在中國出售10,000瓶空氣,今后有望增加到40,000瓶。他剛剛在印度啟動業務,希望每月能在那里賣出10,000瓶空氣。

While Lam says “lots of people purchase our product to use as a gift,” he thinks he’s onto something. “For us, it is definitely a legitimate business. We will be the next bottled water.”

雖然拉姆說,"很多人購買我們的產品只是把它當做一份禮物,"但他認為自己找對了方向。"對我們來說,這絕對是一項正當業務。它未來的發展可以參考現在的瓶裝水。"

While some of the bottled air trend seems to be tongue-in-cheek, there appears to be a growing market for those looking to sample the air for themselves too.

雖然有的瓶裝空氣潮流帶有開玩笑的成分,但對于那些想要為自己收集這些空氣的人來說,這似乎的確是個不斷壯大的市場。

Vitality is not alone. British firm Aethaer collects air from the UK countryside and sells it for £80 ($103) a jar.

Vitality并非個例。英國公司Aethaer也在英國的鄉村收集空氣,然后以每罐80英鎊(103美元)的價格出售。

Aethaer founder Leo De Watts began the practice as an “enviro-political artwork”, coining the playful term “air farming” for the method used to capture the air.

Aethaer創始人里奧·德·瓦茨(Leo De Watts)將這種活動稱作"環境政治藝術",他還發明了"空氣農業"(air farming)這個詞,用來描述捕捉空氣的方法。

Concerned that the scale of global air pollution was hard to comprehend through statistics, he started Aethaer to raise awareness about the issue. The money from the jars of air is reinvested to create cheaper breathing masks.

由于擔心難以通過統計數據了解全球的空氣污染現狀,他創辦了Aethaer來提高人們對這個問題的重視。他將利用由此獲得的收入來開發更加廉價的口罩。

“[Jars of air] can either be bought for aesthetic reasons or to be inhaled,” says De Watts. “We expect many people [are] buying them as decorative pieces, investments, or gifts.”

"裝了空氣的罐子可以拿來當裝飾品,也可以真的用來呼吸。"德·瓦茨說,"我們希望有很多人把它們當做裝飾品、投資品或者禮物來購買。"

He has drawn scorn for selling air, saying critics “feel as though I am a con-artist, cheating people out of their hard earned cash”.

他這種出售空氣的做法引發了一些人的嘲笑,批評人士"覺得我是個騙子,騙取人們辛辛苦苦賺來的錢。"

De Watts says the company’s primary market is China, and he doesn’t disclose sales figures. But, he says, “at the end of the day, we are a company selling fresh air to people who can afford it, and anti-pollution facemasks to those who can’t.”

德·瓦茨表示,該公司的主要市場在中國,但他并未披露具體銷售數據。不過,他還是表示,"歸根結底,我們是一家向買得起的人出售新鮮空氣,向買不起的人出售防污染口罩的公司。"

Unsurprisingly, scientists say there is no evidence or research which shows the upside of bottled air. “This is unlikely to provide any health benefits. Clean air bottles is a gimmick, a waste of money,” says Shawn Aaron, director of the Canadian Respiratory Research Network.

意料之中的是,科學家認為,沒有證據或研究能夠證明瓶裝空氣的好處。"這不太可能給健康帶來任何好處。清新的瓶裝空氣就是一個噱頭,完全是在浪費錢。"加拿大呼吸系統研究網絡主任肖恩·阿?。⊿hawn Aaron)說。

Yet canned or bottled air is not the only way companies are cashing in on pollution. Swedish entrepreneurs Fredrik Kempe and Alexander Hjertström stumbled upon one idea during a trip to Ahmedabad, India.

然而,罐裝和瓶裝空氣并非企業通過污染賺錢的唯一手段。瑞典創業者弗雷德里克·肯佩(Fredrik Kempe)和亞歷山大·杰斯特羅姆(Alexander Hjertström)在前往印度艾哈邁達巴德旅行時意外萌生了一個想法。

Hjertström’s long-dormant asthma came back during their trip and their subsequent quest for a quality pollution mask in India led them to start selling their own.

杰斯特羅姆的哮喘病在那次旅行中復發了,所以不得不在印度四處尋找高品質的防污染口罩,他們也因此開始自己銷售這樣的產品。

“We started to research the market and to our surprise most of the masks we found were basic and far from perfect in their construction,” says Kempe. “Designs were primitive, reminiscent of the masks worn by dentists or miners – nothing you would want to wear every day.”

"我們開始做市場調研,令人意外的是,我們發現多數口罩都很簡單,結構上遠稱不上完美。"肯佩說,"設計都很原始,讓人想起牙醫或礦工佩戴的口罩——你肯定不想在日常生活中佩戴這樣的口罩。"

The pair launched a company called Airinum, which sells colourful and camouflaged masks in a range of styles for between $66 and $75 apiece. The masks use three separate filter layers that help to keep out the fine particles of pollution found in car exhausts and smog.

他們二人創辦了一家名叫Airinum的公司,專門出售色彩各異的時尚口罩,每個售價在66至75美元之間。這些口罩使用三層濾芯,可以隔絕汽車尾氣和霧霾帶來的污染微粒。

Kempe says wearing one of his masks is better for your health than not wearing one. But he is careful not to take the claims too far. The masks, for example, offer little barrier against pollutant gases, such as nitrogen dioxide, that are emitted from car exhausts.

肯佩表示,這樣的口罩對健康更有好處。但他在闡述這一觀點時也用字措辭非常謹慎。例如,這些口罩很難阻擋汽車尾氣中的二氧化氮等污染氣體。

The demand for designer masks is growing. Start-ups like Idealist Innovations in China, Vogmask in the US, and Freka in the UK, offer trendy pollution masks for between $33 and $100.

目前來看,設計師口罩的市場需求正在不斷增加。中國 Idealist Innovations、美國Vogmask和英國Freka這樣的創業公司都以單價33至100美元的價格出售時尚口罩。
 

瑞典的Airinum公司試圖把口罩重新定義成一種時尚配飾

There is some research to support wearing a well-designed facemask to help filter out pollutants, but, these are short-term studies looking at surrogate health outcomes like blood pressure and heart rate variability.

有研究表明,戴著設計精美的口罩有助于過濾污染物,但這都只是短期研究,關注的重點是血壓和心率變異性等替代性健康結果。

“Masks would have to be used for very long periods to have a big impact on the chronic effects of air pollution,” says Benjamin Barratt, a senior lecturer in air quality science at King's College London, who remains suspicious of these designer products. “Some of the dramatic claims that are made do alarm me.”

"口罩必須長時間使用才能明顯減輕空氣污染帶來的慢性危害。"倫敦大學國王學院空氣質量科學高級講師本杰明·巴拉特(Benjamin Barratt)說,他依然對這些設計師產品持懷疑態度。"其中一些偏激的說法令我感到警惕。"

Yet, as concerns about air pollution increase, the market for products that protect against its harmful effects is likely to grow. A good example of this is the Air Shield – a baby stroller that circulates filtered air to create a “clean microclimate” inside. It was invented by Dominykas Budinas, an automotive designer from Lithuania, and won second place in the Electrolux Design Lab in 2015.

然而,隨著空氣污染擔憂的加劇,為了對抗這些負面影響而開發的產品可能會進一步發展。其中一個典型例子就是Air Shield——這是一種對空氣進行循環過濾的嬰兒車,可以為坐在里面的兒童創造"干凈的微氣候"。這款產品由立陶宛汽車設計師多明卡斯·布迪納斯(Dominykas Budinas)發明,在2015年贏得過伊萊克斯設計大賽(Electrolux Design Lab)的第二名。

Budinas drew inspiration from the ventilation systems used in cars for the concept. While it has yet to attract commercial interest, he is eager for it not to be a luxury product.

布迪納斯這個概念設計的靈感來自汽車的通風系統。雖然尚未吸引企業的關注,但他不希望將其打造成一款豪華產品。

“Air pollution in the world’s biggest cities has become a formidable problem,” says Budinas.

"大城市的空氣污染已經成為一個嚴重問題。"布迪納斯說。

Yet, for those who can afford it, there are ways of taking at least a few clean breaths.

然而,對于那些擁有足夠財力的人來說,還是有很多方法可以吸上幾口清新的空氣。
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