Saturday, February 24, 2024

Comentarios from Maria: Climate Change, the Challenge that Implicates Us All


Last week I had the enormous privilege of joining the environmental group, Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF), and Voces Verdes to express our grave concern for the alarming changes in climate that put the health of our children at risk. Each year some 6,600 children die prematurely and an additional 150,000 suffer from asthma attacks caused by climate change and excessive greenhouse gas emissions. As a mother and conscious citizen, it is inconceivable that we continue ignoring this monumental problem that involves every being on the planet. And as Pope Francis expressed in his recent encyclical, “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

As I have mentioned before, the issue of climate change has a particularly strong resonance in our Latino community because many of us have experienced the effects of this phenomenon in our day-to-day lives. It is not a big secret that the poorest and most vulnerable populations in our society are disproportionately feeling the relentless, unforgiving wrath of climate change. And our children, the most innocent and vulnerable of all, are paying for the consequences of our environmental negligence with their health.

The deterioration of air quality due to our exposure and proximity to harmful emissions from power plants and other major sources of pollution have led to a serious epidemic of childhood asthma in our communities. Hispanic children are 60 percent more likely to develop asthma in their childhood compared with non-Hispanic and white children in the United States. Moreover, the chances of dying prematurely from asthma increase up to 40 percent among Latino children.

In light of these challenges, the Obama Administration has rejected that our communities be condemned to continue suffering the consequences of climate change. Mr. Obama and the EPA understand that indifference toward our community is not only cruel, but deadly. As such, the president, in conjunction with the EPA, has worked hard to implement measures that radically curb the contamination that brings us harm. At the end of this summer, the administration will finalize the rules for the Clean Power Plan, the standards which will reduce the carbon dioxide emissions generated by power plants in our country by 30 percent, and will bring tremendous economic  and health benefits totaling $93billion by 2030. This plan represents one of the most important steps in the history of our country in the fight against climate change, and certainly places us at the forefront of this cause at an international level.

In the coming months, rest assured that many in the Republican Party and their presidential hopefuls will do all in their power to circumvent the advances of this administration, for they are blinded by a regressive ideology that forces them to deny the indisputable reality of climate change. We do not have the luxury of staying quiet: everyone has a moral obligation to remind Republican leaders that they also have a collective responsibility to protect our planet, for our children and our country.

This piece originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic.