Urgency of climate talks seen in coal plants, ice

Urgency of climate talks seen in coal plants, ice

As politicians haggle at a U.N. climate conference in Poland over ways to limit global warming, the industries and machines powering our modern world keep spewing their pollution into the air and water.

The fossil fuels extracted from beneath the earth’s crust — coal, oil and gas — are transformed into the carbon dioxide that is now heating the earth faster than scientists had expected even a few years ago.

In this Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 photo, a woman who scavenges recyclable materials from garbage for a living is seen through a cloud of smoke from burning trash, surrounded by Marabou storks who feed on the garbage, at the dump in the Dandora slum of Nairobi, Kenya. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

The devastating wildfires, droughts, floods and hurricanes of recent months and years are intensifying the urgency of the two-week conference in Katowice, which is due to end Friday.

But not far from the conference center, plumes of smoke rise from Europe’s largest lignite, or brown coal, power plant, in the central Polish town of Belchatow. Of the 50 most polluted cities in the European Union, 36 are in Poland.

Elsewhere, from the U.S. to Japan and China, the coal plants, oil refineries and other installations needed to power factories and heat homes are playing their role in a warming earth.

In this Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 photo, smoke rises from a factory as a truck loaded with cars crosses a bridge in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

The negotiators at the international talks are also discussing financial support to poor countries, which are bearing the brunt of drought and flooding, which translate often into agricultural disaster and famine and are a factor behind greater migration.

The challenge of reducing emissions is made more difficult by the growing demand in the developing world for fuel as people there also seek to achieve the benefits and comforts of the industrialized world.

In Africa and Asia, which have become dumping grounds for the rich world’s waste, it is now common to see poor people scavenging for scraps of paper and other recyclable materials at garbage dumps, competing sometimes with crows or storks.

In this Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 photo, Indian ragpickers search recyclable materials at a garbage dumping site on the outskirts of Gauhati, India. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

Fumes from cars are also playing their role in poisoning the air in many cities, from Jakarta and Katmandu to Moscow to Brussels.

Environmentalists in Katowice are warning that time is running out to prevent ecological disaster, a message also being taken up by artists.

In London, 24 large blocks of glacial ice from the waters surrounding Greenland have been placed in front of the Tate Modern and six at other city locations. Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson hopes his installation, called “Ice Watch” and launched Tuesday to coincide with the climate conference in Katowice, will impact people emotionally and inspire urgent public action.

The installation will be on show until the ice melts.

In this Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 photo, plumes of smoke rise from Europe's largest lignite power plant in Belchatow, central Poland. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

In this Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 photo, piles of electronic waste is placed next to a drain chocked with plastic and garbage in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

In this Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 photo, the smog ridden Kathmandu city is seen atop of hill in Kathmandu, Nepal. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

In this slow-shutter zoom effect photo taken on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, commuters are backed up in traffic during the morning rush hour, in Brussels, a city that regularly experiences pollution alert warnings. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

In this Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 photo a woman who scavenges recyclable materials from garbage for a living walks across a mountain of garbage at the dump on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

In this Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 photo, a ragpicker man walks amidst the smoke to search recyclable materials at a garbage dumping site on the outskirts of Gauhati, India. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

In this Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018 photo, a power plant is partially obscured by fog in Minsk, Belarus. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

In this photo taken Wednesday Dec. 5, 2018 from a plane, smoke stacks are seen near the city of Urumqi China's northwestern region of Xinjiang. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

In this Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 photo, cars are stuck in a traffic jam on a bank of the Moskva River outside the Kremlin, with the Russian Foreign Ministry building, center in the background, in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

In this Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018 photo, a passenger plane prepares for landing near an oil refinery in Kawasaki, southwest of Tokyo. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

In this Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 photo, crows and black kites fly next to a tractor working on a garbage-dump on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

In this Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 photo, discarded television sets are stacked up in an alleyway in an area known for storing electronic waste in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

In this Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 photo, people, who scavenge recyclable materials from garbage for a living, walk near a mountain of garbage at the dump on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

In this Tuesday, Dec. 11. 2018 photo, motorists are stuck in traffic jam during a rush hour at the main business district in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

In this Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 photo, smoke billows from the chimneys at Lethabo Power Station, a coal fired power station, in Vereeniging, South Africa. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

In this Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 photo, toxic froth from industrial pollution floats on Bellundur Lake in Bangalore, India. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)


Text from the AP news story, AP Photo: Urgency of climate talks seen in coal plants, ice, by Vanessa Gera.