Climate-change protest makes unwelcome splash

Anthony Scanlan, Staff Reporter

Even though tomato soup might be delicious when paired with a grilled cheese sandwich, how good is it when paired with a historical artwork to protest climate change? Recently, a ~1-minute clip of climate change activists from the Just Stop Oil organization throwing an open can of tomato soup onto Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh was passed around the internet, which sparked some controversy, to say the least.

In a recent interview, Phoebe Plummer, the protester who threw the soup on the painting, explained the protesters’ reasoning and how they were aiming to gain media attention and spread awareness about the necessity of saving our planet. This act of vandalism was intended to spark conversation about climate change, but it instead sparked a conversation about the ridiculousness of their actions.

The activists may not have considered that gaining this attention online also comes with the many opinions of those who view the clip, and for them to vandalize a historic art piece means that a vast majority of those opinions will be criticizing their actions instead of focusing on the real issue of climate change.

In addition to the rampant criticism that the protesters have faced and will surely keep facing for a while, this phenomenon is bound to create a stigma against a majority of climate change activists and damage their credibility. In fact, climate change activists may be ignored and distrusted even more because they will be associated with this incident.

These protesters are reasonably upset with the lack of attention that this issue receives, but resorting to these extreme measures without first thinking of the possible consequences is bound to create unnecessary problems. When we resort to violent or destructive behavior, we create more distrust among the general public and more reasons to ignore these issues.

There are better, safer ways to combat climate change that are effective without damaging property: for example, organizing peaceful protests or boycotting large companies that harm the environment during the process of making their products. It can even be as simple as turning off a light when you are not in a room or carpooling to school/work to cut back on carbon emissions. If there is one thing that combatting climate change should not be, it is destructive.