NASA Climate Scientist Reveals Why Van Gough Soup Stunt Was 'Inspired And Visionary'



A NASA scientist has spoken out in defense of the actions taken by two climate activists earlier this week.
credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy
On Friday morning, two women were recorded throwing tomato soup over Van Gogh's famous Sunflowers painting at the National Gallery in London.

A video of the moment - shared to Twitter by Just Stop Oil - shows the two young activists taking off their coats to reveal 'Just Stop Oil' t-shirts. They then hurl the contents of two tins of Heinz tomato soup over the 1888 painting, which has an estimated value of over $80 million per Sky News.


Check out the shocking moment below:


After slinging the soup, the pair then each superglue a hand to wall before one of the activists shouts: "What is worth more? Art or life?"

She then asked: "Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting? Or the protection of our planet and people? The cost of living crisis is part of the cost of oil crisis. Fuel is unaffordable to millions of cold, hungry families. They can't even afford to heat a tin of soup."

And as reported by ABC News on Saturday, the two activists - aged 21 and 20 - were to be charged by police with criminal damage.


The stunt also received a lot of backlash from social media users, with one person tweeting: "One of the most famous paintings in history damaged forever by a few attention-seeking teenagers.

"Disgusting beyond words. It’s time to take a stand against these criminals and start handing out lengthy prison time."


However, contrary to what many people believe, the National Gallery has confirmed in a statement that the painting was protected behind glass and no damage was caused. Sunflowers is once again back on public display.

However, among the outrage was the response from Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. Kalmus would actually describe the act as "a visionary and inspired action".


He then writes in a lengthy thread: "First, the key context: We are in the mid-stages of fossil-fueled, irreversible Earth breakdown that will cause the collapse of civilization and untold death and suffering if ignored. And what is society doing about it? Basically ignoring it. Worse, even: accelerating it.


"How tragic is it that we're heading deeper into the destruction of life on this beautiful planet, the only place in the universe known to have life, and yet we are barely talking about it? Do not go gentle into that good night".



Kalmus added: "How tragic, that there is LITERALLY more outrage over this act that caused zero damage, than about fossil fuel executives lying, colluding, and blocking action for decades, locking in intensifying heat waves, flooding, fires, rising seas, collapsing crop yields, and death?

"Once you truly understand - once you accept the science, once you pinch yourself for some amount of time because it can't be true, but it is, the science keeps coming in and reinforcing the fundamental findings - once you accept it accept it (emotionally), once you grieve...


"...and you just can't shake the feeling that something is deeply wrong with our society, with world leaders, with corporations, with the media, with everyone going about their daily lives as if everything is perfectly fine... you try all kinds of things to wake people up."





The posts continue: "But nothing works. It's like everyone is caught in some collective sleepwalk. And you are terrified. And you feel a clear responsibility to do something. And you know most people will hate you for it, and denounce you.

"These activists and their bold act of desperation shattered the collective sleepwalk, if for a moment. It stirred things up. It caused discussion. It shone a light.


"I think it is a contribution to shifting the narrative. What counts as important, and why? What do we value, as individuals, as a society, and why?

Kalmus goes on to point out that the painting was "perfectly fine", before asking: "What they DID damage? Crazy social norms that hold an object of art to be worth more than billions of people's lives and life on Earth. Their action holds a mirror to a sick society."





"Folks, we've been trying to warn you. I've been trying to warn you. Scientists have been trying to warn you. All this time. For decades. We are on a track to lose essentially everything. Every year it gets a bit worse. WE MUST GET OFF THAT TRACK," the scientist stressed.

He then responded to the claims that the activists are hurting the cause, rather than helping it. But Kalmus argued: "People were ALREADY against climate activists, by seeing our activism but continuing business as usual, not joining in, not calling for an end to fossil fuels, animal agriculture, and oligarchic-extractive capitalism."



Kalmus concluded: "The massive outrage against what was a nonviolent, non-property-damaging action meant to save lives is, again, a reflection of the violence of this society, and how these brutal systems are upheld by ignorance, thoughtlessness, and greed.

"I'd like to think Vincent himself would have loved this action and cheered on the activists. It was punk, full of life, and in tune with this vibrantly beautiful Earth, just like he was. There is no art on a dead planet."



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