When it comes to protecting our planet, the Latino community always shows up on the front line. And this is more necessary than ever now that Donald Trump is preparing an unprecedented offensive on the world’s climate progress.
In eight years, the US has gone from being the biggest obstacle in the climate fight to the world’s leader in confronting this planetary emergency.
And now, Trump threatens to renounce the country’s international commitments of the Paris Agreement and use the funds earmarked to fulfill those commitments to bring the dying coal industry back to life. This blind rejection of the world’s climate consensus threatens to turn him into the planet’s only leader to deny the climate science and an international pariah.
In these turbulent times, millions of my Latino brothers and sisters live in fear for their future and their families’.
This irrational attitude also contradicts the international energy markets and the rest of the almost 200 countries, who in the recent Marrakesh Conference declared that their Paris Agreement commitments are “irreversible.”
Also irreversible is the attitude of Latino voters in their support for the climate fight and a clean energy economy.
In a new post-election poll conducted by the Sierra Club and Green Latinos, Latino voters have demonstrated once again that when it comes to climate change awareness and environmental protections, we are way ahead of the national curve. Overwhelmingly, Latinos acknowledge that fossil fuel pollution triggers the climate crisis and that we all must tackle this challenge with the urgency it demands.
Almost 90 percent responded that the environment and pollution impact their quality of life, and almost nine in ten are worried about climate change. In fact, 71 percent think its “very important” that the US meets its Paris Agreement commitments.
This poll’s results are more than consistent with previous surveys conducted in the past eight years. And a lot of this has to do with self-defense and self-preservation. We Latinos disproportionately suffer the consequences of fossil fuel pollution and the climate change this pollution triggers.
Plus, we tend to stay in touch with our countries of origin, where climate change is considered a scientific fact and not a Chinese hoax, as Trump says.
According to the survey, almost half of respondents report that someone in their family suffers from asthma, and an astounding 41 percent from cancer. It’s no wonder when we see that 40 percent of Latinos report living or working close to a toxic site —a refinery, a coal-burning plant, an agriculture field or a major highway.
This toxic bombardment, however, does not distract us from our ancestral devotion for Mother Earth. The poll reveals that 97 percent of Latinos believe that they have “a moral responsibility” to take care of nature, the forests, the oceans, lakes and rivers.
“Latinos are cultural conservationists. Our belief that we are the stewards of our earth is not based on a membership, it is passed down from generation to generation as part of our proud heritage.” said Green Latinos President & CEO Mark Magaña.
In these turbulent times, millions of my Latino brothers and sisters live in fear for their future and their families’. The truth is the country owes us a debt of gratitude for our unwavering commitment to a healthy future for humanity.
Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist.