Clovis Toon insensitiveMonday, June 14, 2021
As a youth group advocating for greater attention to be paid to climate risk mitigation, we find the Clovis Toon published on Thursday, June 10, 2021 by your newspaper to be a very strange and tone deaf take on Jamaica's current affairs.
While we are not aware of the intent of the cartoonist, the narrative created by the toon, though interpretable, does more harm than it can ever do good. The feature pits two critical issues against each other.
Climate change affects everyone in our country and disproportionately affects children in many ways, including exposing them to abusive situations. We are aware of the persistent problem of sexual violence against our children and our activists take a strong stance against it. We do not believe, however, that the recent publication was helpful in this matter. In fact, the toon trivialises and weaponises the trauma of our nation's children. Addressing climate change is important in ensuring a just and sustainable future for Jamaica's children as they are the ones who will bear the brunt of the impacts of environmental degradation.
An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that climate change is an immediate and real threat, and that small island states such as Jamaica are on the front line of this crisis. The effects of this human-induced climatic shift are already affecting many lives and livelihoods across the island. Rising temperatures and intense rainfall are linked to increased incidences of vector-borne and water-borne diseases endemic to the country and will have a direct impact on the health of most vulnerable communities. Industries such as agriculture will face tougher times as we continue to experience this crisis. Coastal communities that depend on artisanal fishing will collapse as our reefs retreat and shorelines continue to erode. Climate change is not an issue for 'intellectuals' or the oligarch; rather, it is a bread-and-butter issue for all Jamaicans, including children.
Environmental advocates for years have been trying to get successive governments and communities to recognise and legitimise this threat. These same activists have been working tirelessly to help connect the dots between climate change and the social challenges of our society. The messaging of the cartoon invalidates the importance of climate action and creates unhelpful and unnecessary tiers to the problems we face as a country. It ignores our plural reality; multiple things can be simultaneously true.
We are not satisfied with the current response to either of these concerns and we call upon the Government of Jamaica to invest in stronger solutions to protect children from abuse, as well as to protect the environment within which they live. We also call upon both Clovis and the Jamaica Observer to apologise for creating and publishing that toon, and for the damaging impacts it has on the efforts of both the climate change and children's rights movements in Jamaica.
Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council
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