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Not activism, but apathy is our enemy

For decades fossil fuel giants like TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, Shell and BP have been ignoring their predictions and warnings about man-made climate change and its catastrophic consequences. For many years, the cries of scientists have been ignored while their reports started to pile up, uncertainty margins narrowed, and thought-provoking documentaries attracted large crowds worldwide. And even today, seven years after the famous Paris Agreement, science tells us that the current commitments are insufficient to achieve the set climate goals; there is still no credible route to limit global warming below 1.5°C. Short-term interests and endless chatter without any meaningful action are shaping the grand canvas of our time.

Now that we’re talking about canvases, several have become the target of climate protests lately. Well, not really: climate activists from @Just.StopOil souped the protective glass in front of Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’. The souping set things in motion, and not long after, the covers in front of Monet’s ‘Grainstacks’ and Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ also had to suffer. The three actions had one thing in common: they drew maximum media attention to the uncomfortable consequences of our way of living, without violence against people and significant damage to objects – no paintings were harmed.

Scientists and activists are fed up with decades of climate delay and sound the alarm. But for many, it’s the tune that’s not to their liking. No, grumps roar for the arts: protests are allowed, but not in a museum. “Leave the poor paintings alone”, they say. Actions by major investors are illegal, those using food are dirty and wasteful, and the ones on TV are not classy and from attention seekers. If possible, the activists should stay in their own rooms and pray very hard that climate change will not destroy the world.

For big changes, nonviolent resistance may not be enough on its own, but most of the time, it is very much needed. Not activism, but apathy is our enemy.

Elise & Joy

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