It might be the holidays, but that isn’t stopping some activists from demanding reform. Street artist Banksy, for instance, recently surprised the public with a new mural highlighting air pollution.
On a concrete block garage in Port Talbot, Wales, the elusive artist left a mural depicting a young child catching snowflakes in their mouth. Around the corner of the building, however, it becomes clear that the child is actually catching ash raining down from a dumpster fire.
Banksy confirmed the piece on his verified Instagram account last week. In the post, the mural is displayed. The video then pans out to reveal a grey industrial landscape and the Port Talbot steelworks plant in the background. Throughout it all, a children’s Christmas song is playing. The post’s caption reads, “Season’s greetings.”
According to former steelworker Gary Owen, 55, the artwork is in response to an Instagram message he sent to the artist. Reportedly, Owen 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 asked the artist via text message. Though the text never received a reply, Owen is confident Banksy responded.
Owen told Wales Online that he believes the steel plant is exacerbating health conditions of local residents, particularly in children. It makes sense, considering the World Health Organization (WHO) listed Port Talbot as one of the most polluted areas in the United Kingdom, according to the BBC.
Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, as reported by EcoWatch, because they have a faster rate of respiration than do adults. By breathing faster, children inhale more pollutants.
If you think your children are safe from air pollution, think again. According to the WHO, approximately 93 percent of the world’s children under the age of 15 years (or 1.8 billion kids) breathe toxic air every day. Respiratory problems at an early age predispose a child to health conditions later on in life.
Air pollution isn’t just harmful to human health, it is also accelerating the rate of climate change and is harmful to wildlife. Hopefully Banksy’s mural will inspire more people to call for action and “be the change” they desire to see on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps then, governments will follow the public’s lead and invest in renewable energy.
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Lead image: Artnet News
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