Latinos: The Cultural Environmentalists

By: Luis Torres, LULAC National Director of Policy and Legislation

As the dust of the November election begins to settle, new data are shedding light on the views of Latinos on the topic of climate change that confirm what we long knew anecdotally — Latinos care deeply about the environment and want policy makers to aggressively combat global warming and pass clean energy legislation.

Latino Decisions Polling Data

A poll conducted by Latino Decisions highlights that over 70 percent of Latinos in key states say it is very and extremely important that the next President and Congress take an aggressive stance on global warming or climate change.

In addition, 75 percent of Latinos think it is important for the new administration to reduce smog and air pollution.

The Cultural Environmentalists

These data, however, shouldn’t come as a surprise. Latinos are cultural environmentalists. Our books, songs, and movies are full of the stories of the life of vaqueros, rancheros, campesinos and all other people that live in careful balance with nature. They are the stories of those who came before us, our cultural ancestors — stories that document the lives of people who relied on the bounty of the land, fresh water, and clean air for their survival. They are respected, valued, and admired.

In real life they are grandparents and great-grandparents, relatives and friends. In our cultural mythology they are the ones who teach us to keep our rivers clean because they provide the water we drink; protect and take care of the land because it grows the food that sustains us; and appreciate clean air because it fills the lungs that give us an opportunity to live another day.

Latinos Want Aggressive Action

The implications of these data are clear — Latinos want the next president and Congress to #ActOnClimate and will be paying attention as the new Administration looks to staff key departments with jurisdiction over climate change issues. Latinos are more likely to live close to pollution sites and as a result faced increased risks from pollution-induced health problems like asthma. These are all exacerbated by climate change, and our leaders must do more to address climate change before it is too late.

Politicians need to take notice. For Latinos, strong action on these issues isn’t just about good policy. It’s also about valuing our culture, our heritage, and our past. You can find the results of the poll by clicking here.

Luis Torres is the Director of Policy and Legislation for the League of United Latin American Citizens. Prior to LULAC, he served as Legislative Director for Congressman Silvestre Reyes, former-Chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and was one of a handful of Latino Legislative Directors in the U.S. House of Representatives. Additionally, Torres also served as a high school teacher in Washington, D.C. as part of Teach for America. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Sociology from Georgetown University, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from American University.

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