Climate Change

Three activist stories that marked 2022: public wake-up call

3 activist stories that marked 2022: public wake up call

Photo: Foto: @finitedoc / screenshot


December 31, 2022






December 31, 2022





Young climate activists across the planet are increasingly daring to draw attention to the climate crisis and the urgency of overcoming it. Concert interruptions, museum incidents, witty public messages, and performances are ways of alarming and awakening the general public and the media, which often easily overlook warnings from scientists or forget about floods, droughts, or climate disasters that occur “somewhere at the North Pole.”

Climate action has distinguished itself this year for its boldness and creativity, and some ventures were on the verge of condemnation. But everyone had the same goal – to point out that ignoring problems and business as usual would not solve problems or mitigate or halt climate change. The first request of climate activists is to stop using fossil fuels. They also call for climate justice in the energy transition.

Sometimes one tweet is enough

Greta Thunberg recently faced off with an influencer who boasted of his expensive and luxurious cars. We could say that in this highly inappropriate exchange, the leader of the younger generation of climate activists reacted very effectively. One clever and witty tweet was enough to shut down any further discussion of horsepower.

“Get a life,” says Greta, as a recipe for the climax of capitalism reflected in unnecessary luxury. The email address she invented says a lot more, but you can interpret that for yourself.

Cutting the tip of a Christmas tree

Two activists from the climate group Last Generation sawed off the tip of a king-size Christmas tree outside the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. They put up a banner that said: “This is only the tip of the Christmas tree,” which pointed out that what Germany is facing right now is just the initial phase of the climate crisis.

Interestingly, the police also observed the situation and did not even assume that it was a kind of sabotage of the Christmas celebration, but thought the activists in the basket of the hydraulic crane at about fifteen meters were additionally decorating the tree. But amid the climate crisis, accompanied by worrying predictions of the future, not all young people are up to celebration and decoration. Activists have cut off the celebration tip.

“While all of Germany spends the week getting the best gifts from the biggest stores, others are wondering where they will get their water to drink after droughts and floods have destroyed their crops,” said activist Lily Gomez from Last Generation.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz did not take kindly to this action, stating that activists could have been a little more creative. However, further advice on the direction in which that creativity should go was missing.

Tomatoes all over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

Also disturbed this year were art lovers, art dealers, curators, and historians. Museums trembled in fear whether a visitor would stain the works of Vincent van Gogh with tomato soup or paintings of Claude Monet with mashed potatoes. The essence of such protests and forms of civil disobedience is clear and concrete – it is necessary to draw attention to the continued exploitation of fossil fuels. Activist groups have taken on this tactic to get the public’s attention.

Does it make sense to stain Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with tomatoes? Logic says probably not. And did that help open up a debate on the exploitation of fossil fuels? If you have already heard of the new tactics climate activists have employed this year, then it has served some purpose. It only took a dose of boldness, some would say audacity, strong glue, a can of soup, and a crystal clear message.

We can surely expect more surprises and wake-up calls from the young generations. Whether they are more or less pleasant, witty, or shocking will depend on the creativity of the actors of future climate action and performance. But it will also depend on measures to be taken by states, governments, companies, and the international community to share responsibility for the planet’s future.

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