Latinos Must Vote for Climate to Secure Our Futures

As Latinos turn out to vote this year, they will do so at one of the most painful moments in our collective memory. COVID-19 has exposed the systemic disparities we face—not just from an economic and public health perspective—but from an environmental one too.

Across the United States, Latino, Black, and Indigenous children are dying at higher rates. A new report from the CDC found that children of color accounted for 78% of all COVID-19 deaths. Nearly half of the fatalities are Latino children. These deaths expose something we already knew: Our kids are living with air so polluted and toxic that it is making them more vulnerable to disease and even death.

This is why environmental justice matters. Latino children face disproportionate exposure to air pollutants, pesticides, and toxic industrial chemicals – all of which contribute to higher rates of asthma, lead and mercury poisoning, and behavioral and developmental disorders. One out of every two Latinos lives in the most ozone-polluted cities in the country. And we are 165% more likely to live in counties with unhealthy levels of pollution.

Climate change impacts such as sea-level rise, extreme heat, wildfires, droughts, and other types of extreme weather, also affect Latinos’ health. Latino workers’ deaths from heat exposure; increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease; injuries; and even threats to mental health are all related to the devastating climate effects around us.

These are just a few of the alarming trends which paint a bleak picture of what our children and families are already facing and will continue to face if we do not act.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

All of us, no matter our race or background, deserve to breathe clean air, drink clean water, work under safe conditions, and live without the fear of super-charged and deadly climate-related catastrophes and their consequences.

As activists, advocates, and otherwise concerned individuals we know that climate change touches all aspects of life. Our jobs, the economy, racial justice, immigration, food access, or health all intersect with issues related to the ongoing climate crisis. And we cannot hope to make progress on these critical issues without urgent climate action.

That is why it is imperative to elect leaders who believe that climate change is real and are willing to take strong action against fossil fuel companies that are putting profit over people. Companies that, too often knowingly, harm our environment and poison our air, land, and water.

In the past, environmental issues, including environmental justice and climate change, were seen as a side issue that is not central to the Latino community. But if 2020 has taught us anything it is that environmental justice is intricately connected to the economic and health well-being of Latinos.

According to research by Climate Power, an overwhelming 77% of Latino voters support a strong message of action to combat the climate crisis. Climate change and environmental justice are not only top-tier issues for Latinos but climate action motivates their decisions to vote and for whom.  And young Latinos, in particular, are deeply concerned about a bleak future if there is no action on climate.

During this election,  we have the opportunity to take a stand on the issues that matter to our community. Most importantly we have the opportunity to vote to help our children and our youth live healthier and safer lives.  We need to vote for a safer future by voting for climate action.

The letter was authored by / Esta carta fue escrita por: