Things That Matter

Latino Communities Are Some Of The Most Impacted By Climate Change. Here’s One Organization Fighting Back

For many U.S. Latinos, environmental outreach and engagement aren’t as accessible compared to others. Yet a recent study shows that Latinos, particularly those who prefer to speak Spanish, really care about our planet. According to a study out of Yale University, a huge percentage of U.S. Latinos have never been contacted by an environmental organization working to reduce global warming or tackle climate change. These findings are startling considering a 2017 poll that showed that Latinos care more and are more aware of environmental issues than African Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asian Americans, and Caucasians. Various advocacy groups are now targeting Latinos, where often environmental outreach programs have never been accessible.

Philadelphia leading the charge when it comes to engaging the Latino community around environmental issues.

The Philadelphia Office of Sustainability revamped its outreach effort this year by hiring a community strategist to find ways to engage with the Latino community. Christine Knapp, director at the Office of Sustainability, says they needed more community input especially after feedback for its sustainability plan for 2016 showed people wanted to be included in the process.

“We haven’t engaged Latinos, and we haven’t engaged with any community sufficiently well on these issues.” Knapp told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The city is working with several sustainability programs including one to reduce temperatures in Latino neighborhoods.

The program, called The Heat Vulnerability Index, is a new program recently launched to reduce temperatures in neighborhoods of color, which face environmental injustices frequently. Program volunteers ask residents whether they need more trees, know how white roofs can cool structures, or even understand how heat affects health.

The need to engage Latinos around environmental issues prompted Washington-based GreenLatinos to team up with Moms Clean Air Force to create Ecomadres.

GreenLatinos was formed to address local and national environmental issues that affect Latinos, like the heat issues in Philadelphia. Mark Magaña, the CEO and founding president of the GreenLatinos says caring about the environment is instilled in Latinos more than people think.

“Latinos learn their stewardship of the land through their grandmothers and parents,” Magaña told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “They eat all the food on the plate, turn off the light when they leave the room, eat all the parts of the animal, use water wisely because it might not come the next day; things that we do organically, because it’s in the back of the chanclas.”

Ecomadres is a collaborative program that focuses on bringing Latina moms together to advocate for the environment.

Ecomadres wants to address issues of clean air, climate, and toxins affecting the health of Latino children and families. The hope is that by addressing these issues, communities will stand up and advocate environmental issues within their own homes. The organization did a study that showed 68 percent of Latinos live in areas that do not meet federal air quality standards compared to 58 percent of Caucasians. By educating and advocating in communities, they are showing that Latinos can get behind and support environmental organizations.

Ecomadres has chapters established in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.


READ: Here Are 20 Latinxs Fighting For Environmental Justice

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Blames Indigenous Tribes For Amazon Fires

Things That Matter

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Blames Indigenous Tribes For Amazon Fires

jairmessiasbolsonaro / Instagram

President Jair Bolsonaro is blaming the indigenous community for the fires that raged in the Amazon. The fires set off international outrage as the rainforest faced unprecedented destruction by out of control fires. President Bolsonaro went against the rest of the international community during a speech to the U.N.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wants the United Nations to know that indigenous people were responsible for the Amazon fires.

In a remote session opening the U.N. General Assembly, President Bolsonaro spoke at length about the indigenous communities starting the fires. He also used the speech to speak out against the criticism his administration is receiving over his environmental policies and his response to Covid. Brazil is currently the second most infected country in the world with the second highest death rate.

The Amazon has experienced increased fires since President Bolsonaro took office.

For the first seven months of 2020, 13,000 sq. km. (5,019 sq. miles) of the Brazilian rainforest have burned. This year saw the second-highest level of fires on a global scale with fires raging across the Amazon, Australia, and the West Coast of the U.S.

President Bolsonaro openly contradicted expert findings to fit his narrative.

President Bolsonaro claims that the humidity of the forest contains the fires. According to President Bolsonaro’s speech, fires in the Amazon only happen in certain areas because of how well the humidity can keep the fires in check.

“The fires practically occur in the same places, on the east side of the forest, where peasants and Indians burn their fields in already deforested areas,” Bolsonaro said.

President Bolsonaro’s speech touches on the environmental record his administration is known for.

The Bolsonaro administration has made dismantling environmental and indigenous rights since taking power. The administration has worked to limit the amount of land available to indigenous people and to open up Amazonian rainforest to miners, loggers, farmers, developers, and other uses that are damaging and contributing to the fires. Deforestation by these industries are largely to blame for the out-of-control wildfires that burned for a very long time in the Brazilian Amazon.

Activists are getting ready to fight for the indigenous community and the rainforest.

“We must denounce this political catastrophe that destroys the environment and our future,” Sonia Guajajara, head of Brazil’s main Indigenous umbrella organization, to NBC News.

READ: Under Bolsonaro, The Brazilian Amazon Has Reached Record-Breaking Levels Of Deforestation

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Greta Thunberg Is Donating $114,000 To The Brazilian Amazon

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Greta Thunberg Is Donating $114,000 To The Brazilian Amazon

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Greta Thunberg’s activism has mobilized hundreds of thousands of people across the globe to make the world a better place. She first gripped the attention of people the world over when she began holding climate strikes and further captured awareness a year later when she was 16. At the time she condemned political leaders like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson in a speech for their part in the environmental crisis.

Now, even as the world seems to be on pause with the current pandemic, Thunberg is showing no signs of slowing down with her efforts

The teen climate activist announced that she will donate a portion of a $1.14 million prize she received to fighting the ongoing coronavirus crisis in the Brazilian Amazon.

Earlier this week, the teen activist won the very first Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity for her role in environmental activism. The prize was launched by Portugal’s Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

In a video posted to her Twitter account, Thunberg accepted the honor and said the winning prize was “more money than [she] can even begin to imagine.” The large amount inspired Thunberg to give the money away through her foundation. Thunberg says that she will give $114,000 to SOS Amazônia, an environmental organization that CNN says is “working to protect the rainforest that also works to fight the pandemic in indigenous territories of the Amazon through access to basic hygiene, food, and health equipment.”

Thunberg will also donate $114,000 to the Stop Ecocide Foundation.

The foundation works to make environmental destruction (or ecocide) a recognized international crime. Thunberg explained in her Twitter announcement that the rest of the prize money will be given to causes that “help people on the front lines affected by the climate crisis and ecological crisis especially in the global South.”

One hundred and thirty-six nominees from forty-six countries were considered for the prize that Thunberg was ultimately selected for.

The Chair of the Grand Jury Prize, Jorge Sampaio, explained in the announcement for the winner that Thunberg was selected for her effort to “mobilize younger generations for the cause of climate change.”

It’s not the first prize that Thunberg has won in recent months. Earlier in May she was honored with a $100,000 award for her activism and donated all of it to UNICEF “to protect children from the Covid-19 pandemic.” The award was given to her by Denmark’s Human Act foundation.

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