Just Stop Oil: Controversial Climate Protests Are Unproductive

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(Graphic by Olivia Kao)

Olivia Kao, Reporter

From making decorative posters with meaningful sayings, such as “There is No Planet B!,” marching through streets, boycotting certain environmentally harmful products, or even going vegan are all common and relatively effective forms of protesting for the safety of our planet that most people have at least heard of or seen.  

However, when climate protesters begin to throw cans of soup at centuries-old paintings, as well as smearing and destroying other visual masterpieces with chocolate cake and mashed potatoes in hopes of grabbing the attention of well, the world (which they certainly did), the question arises of just how effective these absurd methods of protest are.  

In late October of 2022, a viral video circulated the internet: two protestors from Just Stop Oil, an organization dedicated “…to [ensuring] that the government commits to ending all new licenses and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels…” (JustStopOil.org), threw cans of soup on Van Gogh’s famous oil painting, Sunflowers.

These protestors claimed that works of art like Sunflowers, among other various uses for oil, are harming the environment. 

While it is true that oil presents a major issue in the earth’s climate, to voluntarily destroy works of art worth millions of dollars is simply unproductive and impulsive, to say the least.

In addition to Van Gogh paintings being damaged, paintings by Andy Warhol among other well-known artists and their works of art have suffered the consequences of these controversial climate protesters. It is rather inaccurate of the Just Stop Oil protestors to attribute these modern environmental issues to paintings that are multiple centuries old.

While the initial intentions of these radical climate protesters were morally right, there are certainly less destructive methods of protest that would bring about the same worldwide attention surrounding issues of oil and climate change. Simply throwing cans of soup at famous works of art gives a negative reputation to climate change advocators and only makes the public less sympathetic to the cause.