Op-Ed: We Need Climate Legislation, Not Distraction


Wikimedia Commons

“Just Stop Oil” protestors threw soup onto a $110 million painting by Vincent Van Gough.

Tomato soup. Mashed potatoes. Milk. Flour. Sounds like a list of items that might go into a Thanksgiving meal. But all of the items listed were used in various climate change protests around Europe over the last few weeks.

Climate protesters sometimes use extreme methods to spread the word about the climate crisis. Despite the attention activists are receiving for their audacious acts, few positives can be drawn from the disturbances for the climate action campaign.

In the latest incident, environmentalists from Letzte Generation, an activist group, severed air travel from Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport, obstructing both runways and ultimately forcing the airport to shut down.

Inconveniences such as flight delays or highway closures do not benefit the movement. In today’s life, we are always in a rush to get somewhere. When an action halts our path, we take out our frustration on the issue. 

In some of the highway occurrences, drivers forcefully moved protesters aside.  

Sporting events were also interrupted by climate activists. Both the French Open and the Laver Cup suffered delays after demonstrators rushed onto the court. 

During the French Open, a French woman tied herself to the net during the men’s semifinals match. The Laver Cup? A man set his arm on fire during a match between Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman and Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

In the United States, protesters vowed to shut down the annual Congressional Baseball Game in Washington D.C.

Some activists decided that art was a better target.

Environmentalists flung a black liquid on Death and Life in Vienna, splattered tomato soup on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in London, and doused Monet’s Grainstacks in mashed potatoes at a museum in Germany.

It is important to note that none of the paintings were damaged, as all were covered by glass.

In each instance, the activists glued their hands to the wall or glass, vowing to stay, making impassioned speeches about the state of our environment.

Even cars were attacked. On November 18, Reuters reported that flour was thrown at a car famously painted by Andy Warhol in Milan. 

Animal Rebellion in England took a different approach. Activists poured gallons of milk in grocery stores in the U.K.

The reasoning behind the protest is benign, the effect, not so much. The negative reactions outweigh the positivity of the movement. 

It is important that today’s youth have an avenue to voice their anger for the climate inaction in our government.

However, wreckage is not the way to show our frustrations. Legislation is the answer to climate change.

Wreckage is not the way to show our frustrations. Legislation is the answer to climate change.

Unfortunately, governments like the U.S. are bought out by oil. Solutions created by the government, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, bear polluting corporations in mind.

Even COP27, the largest environmental conference for the United Nations, was sponsored by Coca-Cola, the world’s largest plastic polluter. Coincidence? I think not.

Politicians do not keep Albert Einstein’s quote in mind, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Fossil fuels, undoubtedly, cause man-made global warming.

The Inflation Reduction Act requires leasing for fossil fuel projects along with renewable energy plants. What about Joe Manchin, the pivotal West Virginia Democrat in the vote? His deal with lead Senator Chuck Schumer could aid the roll out of a natural gas pipeline in West Virginia.

If the world wants to avoid a climate calamity, nations must be willing to shake away from the chains large corporations have kept them in for decades.

If the world wants to avoid a climate calamity, nations must be willing to shake away from the chains large corporations have kept them in for decades.

Federal policy that incentivizes clean energy and keeps polluters responsible for damage. For example, the Break Free From Plastic Act. The act that was introduced in 2021 would blame producers for pollution, not the consumer.

However, I use policy at the town level. I made seismic changes, assisting the charge to ban plastic bags in two towns, and I am currently working on a plastic reduction in Newton.

With diplomacy, I can use my voice during meetings to display my passion for a cleaner environment. I am able to sway both councilors and businesses alike. However, in some circumstances, I am able to find common ground, crafting the best policy for everyone. Soon, I look to be at the state level.

So, what can you do? Call your legislators and push for environmental bills. Attend city hall meetings and share your voice. Your voice matters in the fight against climate change. Use that power to create good.