Just stop oil

Are you a creative or a destructive?

There is a stage direction in The Glass Menagerie in which Tennessee Williams describes a tune that will recur through the play. Like a piece of delicately spun glass, he says, it should summon the thought of ‘How beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken’. The cleverer young people want to live lives of hope, not demanding solutions, but finding them I think of that line often. Not least this week when two young protestors from Just Stop Oil took their hammers to the ‘Rokeby Venus’ of Velázquez at the National Gallery. Last year their cohorts threw soup over Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’. Others glued themselves to the

Keep calm and carry on having kids: the UN’s climate chief on eco-anxiety

Jim Skea has just taken on the most important job in climate science. As the new head of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he is now in charge of the organisation that has done more than any other to build the international consensus that climate change is an existential threat to humanity. ‘I’m very conscious that constant drip-drip anxiety messages could have a paralysing effect on climate action’ In the weeks since his appointment, however, the 69-year-old Scot, a former professor at Imperial and a founding member of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, has set out to strike a very different tone by casting doubt

A split within the radical green movement was inevitable

Ever since Monty Python created their internecine, bickering and ridiculous groups of freedom fighters – the People’s Front of Judea and the Judean People’s Front – for their 1979 film The Life of Brian, it’s always been easy and tempting to mock and deride the fissiparous nature of ideologues and tin-pot revolutionaries. Those who believe in the purity of a cause tend to have a semi-religious mindset – and consequently one semi-divorced from reality – which brooks no heresy from orthodoxy. Thus extreme, quasi-cult movements are always prone to split into factions. And so it goes with the radical green movement, which at its worst excesses does resemble a bizarre cult: witness

How to protest the protestors

These are bleak times in our land, and we must take our pleasures where we can. Personally I have been able to find a great deal of consolation over recent days in watching members of the public confronting protestors from the Just Stop Oil movement. There is some especially pleasing footage of van drivers in south London hauling protestors off the roads by the scruff of their necks. The colourful language which accompanies these acts is an additional delight, for the irate British public is not always immune to using words that polite people might deplore. All the videos bring some satisfaction. This week a strange-looking man-child with a comb-over

How to stop Just Stop Oil

The National Gallery is home to Van Gogh’s still life Sunflowers. It’s an oil on canvas that, according to the Times, has been valued at £75 million. It is a cherished work of modern European art and one of the most important to come from the post-impressionist movement. This morning, two activists from Just Stop Oil went into Room 43 of the National Gallery and drenched Sunflowers in Heinz cream of tomato soup, before glueing themselves to the wall. One of the young women said:  Is art worth more than life? More than food? More than justice? The cost of living crisis is driven by fossil fuels. Everyday life has become

Sam Ashworth-Hayes

The real damage caused by eco-protestors

A pair of Just Stop Oil activists walked into the National Gallery this morning and threw tomato soup over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. ‘What is worth more? Art or life?’, one of the demonstrators yelled as she glued herself to the wall. This isn’t the first time a work of art has been targeted by environmentalists. In July, eco-protesters glued themselves to the frame of Constable’s painting The Hay Wain and covered it with an altered version of their own, doing minor damage in the process. A few days before, eco-protesters rushed onto the track at Silverstone. Eco-protesters also glued themselves to a Turner painting in Manchester. In June, eco-protesters…  you get the idea. For all