Blue Sky Lab - North Pole Project
Organized by: Xibei Li
Update: Race done
April 22, 2016
This is a personal fundraiser. Basically, it works like this – I abuse myself by running in extreme sub-zero temperatures at the North Pole and you donate to help the kids in China breathe cleaner air at home.
On April 9th, I will be undertaking one of the toughest footraces – running 26.2 miles on an ice floe next to the Geographic North Pole, to compete in the coldest marathon on earth – with temperatures expected to be as low as -40F/-40C.
I would like to use this once-in-a-lifetime race as an opportunity to raise awareness for an all-too-commonplace environmental problem affecting developing countries – urban air pollution. Urban air pollution is a huge health risk in these countries, silently suffocating people as they go about their everyday lives. In China alone, hazardous air conditions result in about 1.2 million premature deaths every year. Being Chinese, I have always wanted to do something to help improve this unfortunate situation.
I was born and raised in a provincial city on the North China Plain. For as far back as I can remember, being able to gaze up at a blue sky in my city has always been a rare luxury. Air conditions continued to worsen over the years, with the dire conditions literally taking my breath away when I visited my hometown last year. The air smelled like it was on fire, smoky and thick with ash, a toxic haze that enveloped the entire city. For seven consecutive days, the PM2.5 count, which measures the harmful microscopic particles that penetrate deep into the lungs, was well above 300 particles per cubic meter. Such a reading is more than 12 times the recommended maximum levels of exposure for humans by the World Health Organization. People are exposed to this type of absolutely toxic environment, almost on a daily basis. While commercial air purifiers could help to mitigate the health impacts, they can easily cost hundreds of dollars and are not necessarily affordable to many individuals living in these countries.
But we can help.
Earlier this year, I met a group of young individuals from “Friends of Nature (FON)”（自然之友）, the oldest environmental NGO in China. This group enthusiastically introduced me to a campaign they are working on called “Blue Sky Lab” （蓝天实验室）, with the goal to promote public participation in environmental protection against air pollution. One of their initiatives that particularly caught my interest is a series of workshops they have been conducting, where they teach school kids from low-income families in Beijing how to assemble DIY air purifiers for home use.
34 US dollars - that is the cost for materials to assemble a DIY air purifier. While a DIY air purifier costs less than 1/10 of even the cheapest of the commercial air purifiers, it could achieve results on par when it comes to eliminating PM2.5. For each child who takes home a DIY air purifier, a family of 3 could breathe purer air, which in turn would reduce the whole family's risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases.
So please, if you can, give generously for this cause because we CAN make a difference. All proceeds from this fundraiser will go to FON’s “Blue Sky Lab” campaign.
With every $34 we collect, one more family can be protected from toxic air at home. My fundraising goal is $5100, which could buy enough materials to make 150 DIY air purifier for kids to bring home.
To Know More
I am a Chinese currently living and working in New York City. I started running marathon since 2013 and found myself in love with it. I have a full time job with only 20 vacation days each year, but still somehow managed to travel around the world and completed at least one marathon or ultra in each and every continent, including one in Antarctica in 2015, @80°S near Union Glacier Camp.
My Experience in Antarctica can be seen here ( in Chinese).
Slide show pictures from left to right
1. Running at North Pole ( copyright North Pole Marathon)
2. Blue Sky Lab Theme Picture
3. Chinese City in Toxic Haze
4. Kids building DIY Air Purifier
5. North Pole Marathon Video 2015