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The fight for climate change: How much is too much damage?

The fight for climate change: How much is too much damage?

Two Climate Activists from the group Just Stop Oil threw soup at the Van Gough Sunflower painting in London. Subsequently, they glued their hands to the wall beside the painting in protest of oil and gas production. 

Source: National Public Radio


While climate change has been an arising problem for the past few decades, we’ve had a wide variety of groups and platforms to spread the word. In 2019, Greta Thunberg’s sudden explosion onto the social media platform drew a lot of attention to the issues of climate change. Yet, in the past few months, there has been a sudden increase in extreme activism. In Europe, climate activists have gone to the extent of glueing themselves to paintings by Botticelli and Picasso, tossing canned tomato soup on a Van Gogh, and even throwing mashed potatoes on a Monet. In an attempt to raise awareness, they argue to the public: “What is worth more, art or life?

Luckily, while the paintings were not harmed in any way shape or form due to the protective glass layer, the video has gone viral over countless social media platforms. This begs the question: How much is too much damage? To what extent can we allow these protests to go on? This has erupted into an international outrage and debate. While the paintings themselves were not damaged, the commotion and unnecessary inconvenience it has caused has not been overlooked. The focus of these protesters was not to harm these art pieces but to get more news coverage on the arising consequences of climate change. “We’re not asking the question, should everyone be throwing soup at paintings?” said Phoebe Plummer, a climate activist. “What we’re doing is getting the conversation going so we can ask the questions that matter.” Their frustration grew to new limits after attempting multiple times to end complacency about the climate issues and to influence the higher-ups to mitigate extractions and burning of fossil fuels. To the climate activists, this event was a success in terms of gaining attention, but it may backfire on them. The attention gained has mostly been negative due to their unruly actions, which may give them a harder time in the future with their poor reputation. Some say the act was intended to “elicit a visceral reaction, to force people to emotionally experience the potential loss of a masterpiece. When you think about it, this is what we face with climate collapse,” she said. “The loss of everything we love.” 

So the big question remains: Are these actions necessary and proper? And if so, to what extent will it be considered an act of vandalism and have more serious consequences to their actions? 



Engle, Jeremy. “How Far Is Too Far in the Fight against Climate Change?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 28 Oct. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/28/learning/how-far-is-too-far-in-the-fight-against-climate-change.html 

Ho, Karen K. “Just Stop Oil Protestor Explains Why They Threw Tomato Soup at Van Gogh in Viral Video.” ARTnews.com, ARTnews.com, 19 Oct. 2022, https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/just-stop-oil-protestor-van-gogh-sunflowers-why-video-1234643678/

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