Latinos in Texas especially vulnerable to impacts of climate change

Marcelo Norsworthy

Texas Vox

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

This week, President Obama shared his vision for how the U.S. can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the effects of global warming. This is the great challenge of our time and our moral responsibility compels us to take action now. It is time to implement practical and sensible solutions to ensure that we leave a healthy planet for our kids and grandkids.

Climate change knows no boundaries; whether you live in an urban or rural area, close to the ocean or the mountains or somewhere in between, you are impacted by climate change.

The increased likelihood of extreme weather events may result in stronger, more intense hurricanes and the development of long-lasting droughts; both of which can increase food costs and decrease our government’s resources in the long term.

Public health is another concern, particularly for Hispanics, which account for 40% of Texas’ population. Respiratory diseases, such as asthma, can be aggravated by changes in the weather. According to the National Institute of Health, Hispanics have an elevated rate of hospital admissions and emergency room visits due to these diseases. Simply put, global warming puts our planet’s and family’s health at risk.

In Texas, we’ve seen our fair share of extreme weather and many of our industries and employment sources are being affected. The ongoing drought that began three years ago continues to constrict water supplies around the state and is hindering the agricultural, recreational and energy sectors. The water crisis has reached critical limits in the Rio Grande Valley, where Hispanics account for 90% of the population. In some areas, economic losses could total $395 million.  

Unfortunately, Texas is contributing to the problem. According to the Energy Information Administration, the state is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the country. Texas should act now to harness its abundant clean energy resources and be a leader in finding solutions that will help to preserve our planet. The city of Houston is just one city that is making a difference: Mayor Annise Parker recently announced that the city will buy 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources, making Houston the largest municipal purchaser of renewable energy in the country.

Thankfully, there is a path toward sustainability – a path that encourages job growth and that improves the health of future generations. Environmental Defense Fund applauds President Obama for his environmental stewardship and we will continue working to preserve our planet and stop climate change, both across the nation and at home in Texas.

(This post originally appeared on the Texas Clean Air Matters blog.)

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