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Also this week, African climate activists and a popular Berkeley class
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A photo erases an activist, and highlights a problem
Young people are at the forefront of climate activism. But the most prominent young people challenging world leaders and corporations are often from the West. We hear and see much less about climate activists from Africa.
That’s why an episode at the World Economic Forum last week in Davos, Switzerland, stung for many Africans. The Associated Press published a photo of youth activists at the meeting. But editors at the agency cropped out Vanessa Nakate, an activist from Uganda. She was the only person of color in the group. The symbolism was not good.
“It was, like, the hardest thing,” she said in a video on her Twitter feed. “What really hurt me the most is that I was just thinking about the people from my country, and the people from Africa, and how much I’ve seen people being affected.”
“Who is going to be able to speak for all those people?” she asked.
The A.P. ultimately replaced the cropped photo with the original version and issued an apology. The agency said a photo editor had removed Ms. Nakate because of composition problems: The building behind her was distracting, a statement said.
Africa will be hard-hit by climate change even though it is a tiny emitter of greenhouse gases. And, while many parts of the world can afford to think of climate disruptions in the future tense, many Africans are already living with them. Worse, many African countries don’t have the resources needed to deal with climate change.
That’s why Ms. Nakate and many others are speaking out for Africa. Youth-led climate and environmental initiatives, from plastic repurposing programs to tree-planting initiatives, are having an impact across the continent. But they get very little attention.
It’s important that those efforts are seen, too.