The Viral Eco-Trolls of 2022

The Viral Eco-Trolls of 2022

Activists glued themselves to buildings and threw soup on art to protest Big Oil and climate inaction.

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Protesters from Just Stop Oil climate protest group glue their hands to the frame of John Constable’s The Hay Wain after first having covered the painting with their own picture at the National Gallery, London, on December 20, 2022.
Protesters from Just Stop Oil climate protest group glue their hands to the frame of John Constable’s The Hay Wain after first having covered the painting with their own picture at the National Gallery, London, on December 20, 2022.
Photo: Press Association (AP)

Climate activists were extra-bold in their demonstrations this year. 2022 saw protestors gluing themselves to energy departments and oil and gas headquarters and, perhaps more virally, throwing food onto famous artwork. The message? The climate crisis is already here, and it’s already disruptive, so protests demanding swift-acting climate policies from world leaders must be disruptive in return.

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Tomato Soup on Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”

Tomato Soup on Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”

Throwing tomato soup on Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.”
Throwing tomato soup on Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.”
Screenshot: Finite Doc & Just Stop Oil

In October, Just Stop Oil protesters threw a can of tomato soup onto Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” painting in London’s National Gallery. The two protesters then glued themselves to the wall underneath the iconic artwork. The painting is covered in glass, so it wasn’t damaged by the soup, but onlookers were shocked and gasps could be heard in a video of the event.

The activist group wants the British government to stop the development of new oil and gas projects. “We know that we’re causing disruption. We don’t want to be out doing this,” Phoebe Plummer, one of the Just Stop Oil activists said in an interview with NowThis. “We are desperate. We are scared. We are angry.”

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Blocking Private Jets From Flying

Blocking Private Jets From Flying

Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion activists stop a private jet from taking off.
Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion activists stop a private jet from taking off.
Photo: Marten van Dijl / Greenpeace Netherlands

Private jet flights can emit more greenhouse gases than the average U.S. citizen creates in an entire year. So around the time that the COP27 climate talks kicked off this November in Egypt, activists staged blockades in airports in Amsterdam, Ibiza, Stockholm, and Milan.

According to data from FlightRadar24, more than 30 private jets landed at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from November 4 to 6, the BBC reported. This occurred despite the fact that COP27 was supposed to be about creating decisive climate action from world leaders. In response, activists around the world asked dignitaries attending the climate talks to ban the use of private jets.

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Chained to Chase Bank

Chained to Chase Bank

Police point at protestors chained to Chase Bank.
Police point at protestors chained to Chase Bank.
Photo: Brian Emerson

Scientists and climate activists organized a series of protests around the U.S. and the world in early April. The protests were coordinated with a report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warned of a jarring three-year deadline for the world to lower emissions to limit global warning.

Climate scientist and activist Peter Kalmus was one of several people who chained themselves to the front of a Chase Bank in Los Angeles. They chose the bank because it’s one of the large financial institutions that has funded fossil fuel projects despite announcing plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. They were at the entrance for hours before police officers cut them off the doors and arrested them.

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Singe-Use Jeans

Singe-Use Jeans

Image from Heidi Montag’s and Oceana’s eco-trolling ad for single use jeans.
Image from Heidi Montag’s and Oceana’s eco-trolling ad for single use jeans.
Photo: Oceana

In April, reality TV star and now climate queen Heidi Montag posted a photo of herself on Instagram advertising single-use jeans. “No more shrinkage. No more fading color. Just good vibes. You’ll always look your best because you’ll only wear @S1NGLESJEANS once. #ad,” the caption read. Commenters asked if this was a “MF joke.” It was.

“Single-use jeans are dumb. As dumb as single-use plastic bottles,” Montag said in the voiceover to a video announcing the joke campaign. “The stupidest single-use product is already out there. Polluting our ocean. Help us save it.” She asks viewers to sign the #refillagain petition from ocean conservation group Oceana and ad agency The Community. The campaign website urged viewers to push beverage companies phase out disposable plastic bottles that often just end up in our landfills and in the oceans.

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Bloody Steps in Madrid

Bloody Steps in Madrid

Climate activists in Madrid protested on blood stained steps during a week of global disobedience in April 2022.
Climate activists in Madrid protested on blood stained steps during a week of global disobedience in April 2022.
Photo: Scientist Rebellion

Protestors gathered outside of Spain’s parliament building in April and threw red paint on the steps to symbolize the blood of those lost to the climate crisis, EuroNews reported. Scientist Rebellion tweeted videos of thestained steps. More than 50 of the 100 people who protested were arrested, according to Scientist Rebellion’s Twitter account.


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Oil Slick on Klimt’s “Death and Life”

Oil Slick on Klimt’s “Death and Life”

Last Generation activists throw oily liquid at Gustav Klimt’s “Death and Life.”
Last Generation activists throw oily liquid at Gustav Klimt’s “Death and Life.”
Photo: Letzte Generation

Last Generation activists threw an inky black liquid at Gustav Klimt’s “Death and Life” painting at the Leopold Museum in Vienna this November. One of the protestors then glued himself to the glass that protected the painting, the Associated Press reported.

A video of the action showed how a museum guard grabbed one of the activists while the other glued himself to the painting. “Stop the fossil fuel destruction. We are racing into a climate hell,” one of the protesters said, according to the AP.

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Glued to German Airport Tarmacs

Glued to German Airport Tarmacs

The last of four climate activists sits with his hand glued to the feeder road of a runway at Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport in Munich, Germany, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022.
The last of four climate activists sits with his hand glued to the feeder road of a runway at Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport in Munich, Germany, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022.
Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa (AP)

In early December, activists with climate group Last Generation glued themselves to the tarmac of two major airports in Germany, Reuters reported. They coordinated the protest to ask the country’s government to stop subsidizing air travel and to invest in trains as a greener alternative.

Flights into Munich’s airport were disrupted due to the protest, but Berlin’s airport did not see disruptions, the Associated Press reported. The activists were removed by local police.

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Taking Over Shell’s London HQ

Taking Over Shell’s London HQ

Extinction Rebellion activists are seen with their hands glued to the reception desk of the Shell Building on April 13, 2022 in London, England.
Extinction Rebellion activists are seen with their hands glued to the reception desk of the Shell Building on April 13, 2022 in London, England.
Photo: Rob Pinney (Getty Images)

During the week of global protests this past April, protesters gathered inside Shell’s London offices and glued themselves to the front desks. Other activists glued themselves to the ground outside of the office doors. They demanded a meeting with Ben van Beurden, Shell’s CEO, the Guardian reported.

“They currently have plans to expand their fossil fuel business by 20% for the next few decades. And that, for me, is a death sentence for my children,” activist Chloe Naldrett told The Guardian. She was one of the protesters glued to the ground outside.

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Chained to the White House

Chained to the White House

Early April 2022, scientists chained themselves to the White House fence in an act of civil disobedience.
Early April 2022, scientists chained themselves to the White House fence in an act of civil disobedience.
Photo: Scientist Rebellion

When global civil disobedience kicked off this April, activists and scientists traveled to the White House and chained themselves to the fence that surrounds the grounds. Soil scientist Rose Abramoff was there for about an hour before police cut the chains and arrested her. “It’s not political to tell the truth. Serving the habitability of life on this planet is not and should not be a political issue. I can’t pretend that I don’t know what I know,” Abramoff told Earther earlier this year.

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Mashed Potatoes on Monet

Mashed Potatoes on Monet

Last Generation activists glue themselves under a Claude Monet painting after throwing mashed potatoes onto the glass.
Last Generation activists glue themselves under a Claude Monet painting after throwing mashed potatoes onto the glass.
Photo: Letzte Generation

Less than two weeks after activists threw a can of tomato soup onto a Vincent van Gogh, two Last Generation protestors went to the Barberini Museum and threw mashed potatoes on Claude Monet’s “Les Meules” painting, the Associated Press reported.

After throwing the potatoes onto the glass that covered the painting, they glued themselves to the wall.

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