For Latino voters, climate and environment are at the top of the ballot

For Latino voters, climate and environment are at the top of the ballot




hand with glove holding globe

Unsplash / Fateme Alaie

For a majority of Latino voters, climate change is at the top of their list of concerns — and for good reason. Latinos are significantly more likely to live in areas with more pollution, areas already affected by climate change, and areas where these two environmental dangers combine to create an even greater risk to life and health.

When Americans go to the polls on November 3rd, Latino voters will make up the second-largest voting bloc in the US, as well as the largest minority voting bloc. Of course, no group can be simplified into a single opinion, or expected to vote the same way on any issue. It is fair to say, though, that a majority of Latino voters will be looking for candidates ready to use science to combat climate change, and who will prioritize environmental justice.

Let’s clear the air

Bright clean airy sky above green grass.

Scott Webb / Unsplash

Moms Clean Air Force, a community of parents dedicated to fighting air pollution, reports that “68% of Latinos live in areas that do not meet federal air quality standards.” Nearly half of the Latino population of the US live in counties that are frequent violators of ground-level ozone standards.

Commonly known as “smog,” this ground-level ozone causes asthma in children and, as the American Lung Association says “acts like a sunburn on your lungs.”

Climate change is here

Climate protest

Flickr / Takver

When you begin to add climate change into the equation, the dangers grow exponentially. The long-lasting devastation of hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico is brutal evidence of increasingly dangerous hurricanes. Over 130,000 people were displaced, the island’s economy was destabilized, and we are still trying to understand the effects on the physical and mental health of those who survived the storm.

For Latino voters, climate change is not a distant idea, it is a present, daily threat. Three continental states that already suffer the effects of climate change are home to 55% of the Latinos living in the US. Drought and wildfires in California, heatwaves in Texas (and Arizona, and Nevada), and sea-level rise in Florida have impacted a disproportionate number of Latinos.

Vulnerable communities have had enough

Little girl in a face mask

Pikist

A multi-agency poll shows that a majority of Latino voters’ climate concerns are focussed on leaving behind a cleaner world for future generations. Especially now that “environmental racism and the higher levels of toxic pollution and dirty air in Black, Latino, and Native American communities,” has been brought into even sharper focus, as this increases the likelihood of contracting — and dying — from COVID-19.

Our leaders need to sing a new song

People walk near the Washington Monument during a day of extreme heat in Washington.

Flickr / Pedro Szekely

Pollution and climate change should ring out a call to action to everyone, but it comes as no surprise that members of a community who suffer more from environmental damage would prize leaders who will prioritize environmental action and environmental justice.

For Latino voters, climate and environmental plans tick a very important box. A Latino Decisions poll found that 70% of Latino voters rank a president and Congress who will take on climate change as “very or extremely important.”

It’s a new day, with new voters

Man holding a sign that says "Register early to vote"

Unsplash / Annie Bolin

Over the past four years, four million Latinos have become eligible to vote. Meanwhile, government officials failed to act on climate change, worked to roll back environmental protections, and catered to the wishes of the oil industry.

“Latinos have been forced to live with the consequences,” Explica says, when politicians don’t “care about the community, the air they breathe, the water they drink, or the areas where their children play.”

A majority of Latino voters are looking for candidates who lean into strong, science-based environmental plans. They want to elect leaders who will stop bailing out industries that pollute and support those that will create clean technologies. And they want to see environmental justice, where polluters are held accountable, particularly for the greater damage they have done to previously marginalized communities.

You can make sure that you are ready to elect climate-concerned candidates by checking your voter registration.

Disclaimer: This sponsored article was produced and distributed in partnership with Latino Victory Project, in support of the Vote Like a Madre campaign.

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