The city of San Francisco can now add another problem to its growing list of issues: Environmental waste from a mural of climate activist Greta Thunberg.
According to the Associated Press, Argentine artist Andres Iglesias, also known by his pseudonym Cobre, has painted a giant mural of the 16-year-old Nobel Peace Prize nominee in Union Square. Iglesias told KPIX-TV he created the mural because he wants people "to realize [we] have to do something for the world. Otherwise, it's going to be the beginning of our extinction."
However, as a video of the project shows, Iglesias is using aerosol spray paint cans for the Thunberg mural, which environmentalists say emit volatile organic compounds that contribute to global warming.
Mural in Downtown S.F. Depicts Swedish Teen Climate Activist Greta Thunberg www.youtube.com
While it is unclear how many spray cans Iglesias has used, the mural spans four stories and at least one smaller project utilized 500 cans of the paint scientists say can generate asthma-inducing smog. To create the mural of the teenage climate activist, the artist used a respirator that is said to protect painters subjected to noxious fumes.
As reported in Scientific American, although most aerosol products sold in the U.S. now use propellants, such as compressed gasses and hydrocarbons that "do not deplete the ozone layer," the use of spray cans like the one being used in the Greta Thunberg mural remain harmful to the environment.
They still contain hydrocarbons and/or compressed gases notorious for their contribution to global warming. Every time you hit the button, then, you are raising your carbon footprint, albeit ever so slightly.
Meanwhile, an article in World Atlas notes that even the cans themselves contribute to pollution and climate change:
The modern CFC-free aerosols still emit the volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which still affect the ozone and the environment. The VOCs are the primary component of the asthma-inducing smog. Besides, the propellants in aerosol cans are highly flammable when in contact with fire and can cause explosions and start fires. Empty aerosol cans are considered as hazardous waste in the US.
Thunberg famously blasted world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit in September: "We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth — how dare you!" Adding, "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."