Why Do We Care More About Paintings of the Earth than the Planet Itself?

Image courtesy of Just Stop Oil.

Last month, after dousing Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers with a can of tomato soup, a climate activist reportedly asked a passerby, "What is worth more: art or life?" The internet responded promptly: "Art." One tweet, which collected more than 10,000 likes, referred to the incident as an act of “anti-human nihilism.” Another said of the activists; “Their message is clear: destroy beauty and civilization." But the online outrage only adds to the protesters's point—why are we more focused on human depictions of the natural world than we are on the daily destruction of those same landscapes?

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