Quantcast

Banksy's Latest Mural Is a Haunting Take on Air Pollution

Popular
The latest piece of artwork by underground guerrilla artist Banksy on Dec. 20 in Port Talbot, Wales. Matt Cardy / Getty Images

Secretive graffiti artist Banksy has created another thought-provoking piece of art.

His latest pop-up went on a concrete block garage in Port Talbot, Wales that appears to show a child catching snowflakes with their mouth. But once you look around the corner, you realize that the child's mouth is open to ash emanating from a dumpster fire.


The British guerrilla artist confirmed on his verified Instagram this week that the artwork was his. The haunting video post, accompanied by a children's Christmas song, first displays the mural itself. It then zooms out to reveal a grey industrial landscape and the Port Talbot steelworks plant looming in the background.

The caption along with the post reads, "Season's greetings."

Port Talbot resident and former steelworker Gary Owen, 55, claimed to Wales Online that Banksy's piece was in response to an Instagram message he sent. Owen said he asked Banksy to create art that would highlight Port Talbot's dust problem.

"Can you do some art in Port Talbot, the steelworks is making lots of dust every day and the locals are sick of it," Owen texted the artist in August.

Although his text never received a reply, Owen does not think it's a coincidence that the display popped up in his town four months later.

Owen also claimed to the publication that he believes the area's children are facing health risks by playing in dust coming from the steel plant.

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed Port Talbot as the most polluted place in the UK. However, in May, the WHO revised the list and issued corrected figures, according to the BBC. Port Talbot is still identified as one of 17 areas in the UK that has met the fine-particle air pollution limit of 10 micrograms per cubic meter set by the WHO.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution as they have faster respiratory rates than adults, so they breathe in more pollutants. Around 93 percent of the world's children under the age of 15 years (1.8 billion children) breathe toxic air every day, according to the WHO, which also estimated that in 2016, 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.

Banksy's art has featured environmental messages before. For instance, this 2010 piece in the ruins of Detroit's Packard Automotive Plant shows a child with a can of red paint and the words, "I remember when all this was trees."

In 2009, the street artist spray-painted the words "I DON'T BELIEVE IN GLOBAL WARMING" on a wall beside a canal in London. His message came after the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen that was widely considered a failure for not producing a binding agreement to tackle climate change, The Guardian reported then.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Individual standing in Hurricane Harvey flooding and damage. Jill Carlson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Allegra Kirkland, Jeremy Deaton, Molly Taft, Mina Lee and Josh Landis

Climate change is already here. It's not something that can simply be ignored by cable news or dismissed by sitting U.S. senators in a Twitter joke. Nor is it a fantastical scenario like The Day After Tomorrow or 2012 that starts with a single crack in the Arctic ice shelf or earthquake tearing through Los Angeles, and results, a few weeks or years later, in the end of life on Earth as we know it.

Read More Show Less
A pregnant woman works out in front of the skyline of London. SHansche / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Air pollution particles that a pregnant woman inhales have the potential to travel through the lungs and breach the fetal side of the placenta, indicating that unborn babies are exposed to black carbon from motor vehicles and fuel burning, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivered a talking-to to members of Congress Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force after politicians praised her and other youth activists for their efforts and asked their advice on how to fight climate change.

Read More Show Less
Ten feet of water flooded 20 percent of this Minot, North Dakota neighborhood in June 2011. DVIDSHUB / CC BY 2.0

By Jared Brey

When Hurricane Michael tore through the Florida panhandle last October, it killed at least 43 people, caused an estimated $25 billion in damage and destroyed thousands of homes.

Read More Show Less
A protestor holds up her hand covered with fake oil during a demonstration on the U.C. Berkeley campus in May 2010. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The University of California system will dump all of its investments from fossil fuels, as the Associated Press reported. The university system controls over $84 billion between its pension fund and its endowment. However, the announcement about its investments is not aimed to please activists.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Forest fire continues to blaze in Indonesesia on Sept. 18. WAHYUDI / AFP / Getty Images

Nearly 200 people have been arrested in Indonesia over their possible connections to the massive wildfires raging in the nation's forest, officials said this week.

Read More Show Less

By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

World leaders have a formidable task: setting a course to save our future. The extreme weather made more frequent and severe by climate change is here. This spring, devastating cyclones impacted 3 million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Record heatwaves are hitting Europe and other regions — this July was the hottest month in modern record globally. Much of India is again suffering severe drought.

Read More Show Less
Covering Climate Now / YouTube screenshot

By Mark Hertsgaard

The United Nations Secretary General says that he is counting on public pressure to compel governments to take much stronger action against what he calls the climate change "emergency."

Read More Show Less