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16th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Winter Supply

A lone pensioner’s figure eyes his quickly-dwindling coal supply in the cellar of his small-town home in Pszczyna, Poland. Pszczyna is known for having one of the highest air pollution levels in Europe. Despite the poor air quality and skyrocketing coal prices, Poland’s energy sector remains heavily dependant on coal. This is especially noticeable in Poland’s small towns with outdated infrastructure, right in the heart of Europe. The future looks especially bleak for the badly-off pensioners. Poland’s current government views investment in clean energy as an expensive luxury. As the biting cold descends upon impoverished areas, the Poles remain prisoners to the lack of political will, growing coal prices as well as extensive air pollution of their own doing—for many—the only way to survive the winter.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 10.2018
Date Uploaded: 11.2018
Photo Location: Pszczyna, Poland
Camera: NIKON D850
Copyright: © Thomas Kast