This past Sunday, on May 29th, 2022, a young man attempted to vandalize the Mona Lisa while visiting the world-famous painting at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The man smeared frosting all over the paintings’ protective glass, as seen in videos shared on social media. The individual disguised himself as an elderly woman in a wheelchair, wearing a wig, glasses, and lipstick. Individuals with disabilities are allowed closer access to the painting, which explains the need for the elaborate disguise. He then stood up out of the wheelchair and threw a pastry at the painting, and the frosting smeared all over the protective glass. Luckily this act had no harmful effect on the actual painting and was cleaned shortly after by an employee of the museum. This is not the first time the Mona Lisa has been the subject of controversy, as it has been stolen and vandalized five times before this particular incident.
The culprit, age 36, was promptly arrested and taken to a psychiatric hospital in Paris, via CNN. As he was being detained, videos shared on Twitter show him yelling in French, “Think of planet Earth, there are people destroying it”, before being escorted out of the building by security. There is currently an ongoing investigation for the attempt of damaging cultural property, and the attempted vandal has become somewhat of a hero for climate activists worldwide.
For years leading scientists and activists have been warning government officials about the dangers of climate change, and the irreversible damages we are doing to our planet. These concerns almost always are swept under the rug, and scientists and activists are often silenced or sidelined for more interesting news stories. In a way the young man was successful; not in his attempted vandalism scheme, but successful in bringing the topic of climate change to the table. This young French man did something scientists struggle to do, create a story with a catchy enough headline that almost every mainstream media outlet will publish an article about it. While the headline will most likely be related to his vandalism attempt, the main point of any article related to the subject will be about climate change; his intent from the beginning.
France is one of the world leaders in producing nuclear energy, which is a carbon-neutral energy source. According to the International Energy Agency, over 72% of France’s energy comes from nuclear power, and they have plans to close their last few coal plants this year. While France is a global leader in nuclear power, the young man was trying to grab the world's attention- not just his home country. Hopefully, this will serve as a wake-up call to governments worldwide and we begin the transition to renewable and carbon-free energy sources.
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