A man cools off at a misting station in Vancouver, Canada. Reuters
Javier Sierra, Tribune News Service
The warnings from Pachamama, the Mother Earth goddess of Incan mythology, about our abusing the only habitable planet we know are growing in intensity. The conditions for a new record season of heatwaves and wildfires keep piling up, and we, as Latinx people, must take special precautions to confront the upcoming weeks and months.
This summer, the US Northwest and Canada’s Southwest have suffered the worst heatwaves in their history, registering astounding temperature records. Quillayute, Wash., for instance, hit 110 degrees on June 30, 45 more than its average and 11 more than the previous record.
Some 600 people have died in this tragedy. If climate change didn’t exist, the science tells us, this extreme heat would have been “virtually impossible.” At the same time, drought conditions are currently impacting an unprecedented 93% of the US West.
Amid this crisis, research has shown that Latinos are three times as likely to die of excessive heat than the rest of the population. Millions of Latinx people work in farming and construction, outdoor activities that make them much more vulnerable to heat and its health consequences. Moreover, inequity and economic abuse, the lack of health insurance and the undocumented migratory status of millions accentuate this vulnerability.
A new report confirms, once again, that the climate crisis impacts us disproportionately in all its facets, including wildfires. The firm risQ — which analyzes climate risks by using data from the US Census, the insurance industry and the toll of these disasters — concluded that Latinx people are twice as likely to live in the areas most exposed to wildfires as the rest of the population.
Meanwhile, the report noted, white residents’ risk of being impacted by wildfires has decreased in the last decade.
A combination of factors — such as housing insecurity and a lack of economic resources — forces our families to live in the most fire-prone areas. risQ’s report reveals that, between 2010 and 2019, the number of Latinx people who have moved to those areas increased by a whopping 223 percent, whereas the white population in those same zones has decreased by 32 percent in the same period.
The true perpetrators of the planetary emergency we all live in continue to deceive us and hamper the climate action we all urgently need. Two Greenpeace activists, posing as corporate recruiters, managed to interview two Exxon executives, who, on camera, described how the corporation cons the rest of the world.
Keith McCoy, a senior Exxon lobbyist in Washington D.C. called President Joe Biden’s plans to reduce greenhouse emissions “insane” and confessed that Exxon has used “shadow groups” for decades to attack climate science.
Enough! Communities like mine demand that Congress pass a big, bold infrastructure plan that addresses the climate crisis on the size and scale required and invests in the clean energy economy to reduce climate pollution and protect our families and their future.
Because for us Latinx people, the climate crisis flames burn hotter.
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