Climate Crisis: Why throwing food at famous art doesn’t work


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Ella Ashby, Opinion Writer

First it was cake on the Mona Lisa, then it was tomato soup on Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.” Over a short span of time, outrage has been sparked over the defacing of famous works of art by climate activists. These protests, carried out mainly by an activist group known as “Just Stop Oil,” have undoubtedly gotten the media coverage and attention that they were looking for. Awareness has been gained, but awareness isn’t the problem.
As if the request to “just stop oil” isn’t unrealistic enough, the “Just Stop Oil” project is pushing for the immediate halt of all fossil fuel use in the UK. Yes, the climate crisis is a growing problem, and yes, the use of fossil fuels needs to be drastically slowed. I can completely agree with the ideals of most climate protests, but tossing mashed potatoes at famous works of art not only paints real activists as crazy people, but their expectations are as childish and outlandish as their behavior.
As helpful as it would be for us and the planet, you can’t just stop using fossil fuels cold turkey. An adjustment period is needed, not to mention many more suitable substitutes for oil would need to be found. People need fuels like oil and coal to make necessary transportation possible, and an immediate halt on oil and fossil fuel use would be extremely harmful to world economics. Too many people currently depend on them for it to be a feasible demand in the short term.
As much as I hate what’s going on with the world’s climate, the attacks on art are a major setback. While the acts of vandalism gained mass coverage across news and social media, they didn’t gain attention in a very positive light. It’s uncalled for to damage famous art simply to back a protest group of any kind. The ideas behind the actions were ultimately good-intentioned, but the receival was a horrible mess, and it created a stigma that will take a long time to recover from. It’s not like Van Gogh was pro oil, and Monet wasn’t an avid user of natural gas. There is just no correlation between throwing food at art and our slowly-derailing climate situation. Disrespecting not only the artists, but the climate change movement in itself isn’t the way to push a point.