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Banksy's Latest Mural Is a Haunting Take on Air Pollution
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.
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The world awakened to the hole in the ozone layer in 1985, which scientists attributed it to ozone depleting substances. Two years later, in Montreal, the world agreed to ban the halogen compounds causing the massive hole over Antarctica. Research now shows that those chemicals didn't just cut a hole in the ozone layer, they also warmed up the Arctic.
Formosa Plant May Still Be Releasing Plastic Pollution in Texas After $50M Settlement, Activists Find
On the afternoon of Jan. 15, activist Diane Wilson kicked off a San Antonio Estuary Waterkeeper meeting on the side of the road across from a Formosa plastics manufacturing plant in Point Comfort, Texas.
After Wilson and the waterkeeper successfully sued Formosa in 2017, the company agreed to no longer release even one of the tiny plastic pellets known as nurdles into the region's waterways. The group of volunteers had assembled that day to check whether the plant was still discharging these raw materials of plastics manufacturing.
Malaysia Sends Plastic Waste Back to 13 Wealthy Countries, Says It Won’t Be 'the Rubbish Dump of the World'
The Southeast Asian country Malaysia has sent 150 shipping containers packed with plastic waste back to 13 wealthy countries, putting the world on notice that it will not be the world's garbage dump, as CNN reported. The countries receiving their trash back include the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada.