Performative Protests

by Devin Kosiorowski ‘24

On May 21, a group of climate change activists dumped vegetable charcoal into the famed Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. The charcoal made the waters of the fountain turn a vibrant black, grabbing the attention of locals as well as journalists worldwide. Through this protest, Ultima Generazione wanted to bring attention to the recent flooding in the Emilia Romagna region of Northern Italy. Also, the group was driven by the concerning statistic that the planet’s average global temperature is on the verge of being 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than it was during the pre-industrial era. Many groups, including Ultima Generazioen, have resorted to vandalizing historic pieces of art in order to bring attention to climate change concerns.

Although the intentions of such acts may be noble, vandalizing historic pieces of art is not an effective way to get the word out on climate change issues because it associates a negative action with a positive result. When a group makes it seem as if they are destroying a beloved piece of art or monument, no one is going to want to side with them even if their cause is something that is beneficial. That’s why activists should resort to methods that will make the public side with them.