Things That Matter

Here Are 20 Latinxs Fighting For Environmental Justice

A 2015 Yale study found that Latino-Americans are much more engaged with the issue of global warming that non-Latinos. We know that global warming is happening, that it’s caused by humans and that we can take action to prevent it.

It’s no wonder given that Latinos are also vulnerable to air pollution and natural disasters because of where we live and work. Just look at Puerto Rico. Here are the Latinxs leading the fight for environmental justice and ways that we can help in our everyday lives.

1. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez | Youth Director, Earth Guardians

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. Earth Guardians. 11 April 2018.

In April 2016, then 16-year old indigenous hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez filed a lawsuit against the federal government for violating their constitutional right to life, liberty and property by the government’s reckless actions that contribute to global climate change.

His advice via the Huffington Post: ” We need to inspire people to take to the streets and the voting booth to appeal to the local and national court systems to demand change from our political leaders we can vote in or out of office.”

2. Lin-Manuel Miranda | Creator of “Hamilton”

CREDIT: @lin_manuel__ / Instagram

By the nature of his work, Lin-Manuel Miranda fights for human rights, which means he fights against climate change. He dropped a single to raise money for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit and has been active in calling for donations and new coverage for the ongoing crisis on the island.

You can help by continuing to share news in your social media feeds to keep the attention on Puerto Rico, or by listening to his single.

3. Marco Antonio Regil | TV Host

CREDIT: @marcoantonioregil / Instagram

Marco Antonio Regil is empowered as all get out, and in ways that aren’t exclusive to his famedom. He eats vegan at every meal to reduce his environmental impact and worked with TheSoilStory.com to raise awareness about carbon farming and petition the California Governor to make sustainable soil programs a part of their climate change initiatives.

Our elected officials work for us, and they want to hear from you. Speak up!

 4. Nanette Barragán | U.S. Representative, California’s 44th District

CREDIT: @repbarragan / Instagram

Rep. Barragan reps most of south Los Angeles to Congress and is the chair to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ environmental task force. She isn’t all talk either. When she served on the Hermosa Beach City council, she fought (and won) to protect the Santa Monica Bay from oil drilling.

Let’s keep her in office, eh?

5. Kat Von D | Founder of Kat Von D Cosmetics

CREDIT: @thekatvond / Instagram

Kat Von D is making sustainable and sexy makeup accessible to beauty lovers everywhere. When animal agriculture contributes to more than half of the world’s man-made greenhouse gas emissions (that’s more than all the trains, planes, and cars combined), saving the environment can begin on our plate.

6. Carlos Curbelo | U.S. Representative, Florida’s 26th District

CREDIT: @repcurbelo / Instagram

Carlos Curbelo’s district encompasses Key West to Miami-Dade, and with that Florida coastline in serious jeopardy from rising ocean levels, he’s got his work cut out for him. That’s why he co-founded the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bi-partisan group in the House dedicated to protect their districts from the threat of climate change.

7. Vanessa Hauc | Reporter, Telemundo

CREDIT: @vanessahauc / Instagram

For those of us getting our news from actual journalists with brains, you might recognize Vanessa Hauc from Telemundo. Knowing that climate change is an urgent issue, Hauc wanted to alert her viewers to its threats in a way they can understand. She pioneered five-minute story segments called “Alerta Verde” and co-founded the nonprofit Sachamama to cultivate a climate change discussion within the Latino community.

8. Jamie Margolin | Founder of This is Zero Hour

CREDIT: @Jamie_Margolin / Twitter

Colombian teenager Jamie Margolin is the Founder and President of This is Zero Hour, a “national movement mobilizing youth to protect a livable future.” She’s organizing The Youth Climate March for July 21st of this year.

Follow her @jamie_margolin and @thisiszerohour to support!

9. Patricia Espinosa C. | Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change

CREDIT: @PEspinosaC / Twitter

Patricia Espinosa C. is the current Ambassador of Mexico to Germany, and is also the leading the discussion with global leaders on how to protect at-risk communities from climate change.

Because, real talk, this envrionmental racism is real af–like when they build chemical plants in our neighborhoods, or when most folks working in the most dangerous work place (slaughterhouses) are undocumented and unable to advocate for themselves.

10. Elizabeth Yeampierre | Executive Director, UPROSE

CREDIT: @yeampierre / Twitter

Yeampierre self describes as “Racial & Climate Justice Movement Builder, ED @UPROSE, Decolonized Bk?? of African/Indigenous ancestry – climate justice is racial justice.” (UPROSE is Brooklyn’s oldest Latino organization.)

She was also the first Latina chair of the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and opened for Pope Francis’ Climate Change Rally in 2015.

11. Yennifer Martinez | Manager of PETA Latino

CREDIT: @ymeffect / Instagram

Born in Cuba and raised in Mexico, Spain, and Miami, Martinez has blown PETA Latino up on the internet. Y’know, since Latinos care more about climate change than anyone else, they’re adopting vegan lifestyles quicker than any other group, and Martinez has the recetas, inspo and passion to propel our community forward.

In her own words, “To dissect the systematic and structural powers of oppression. That means breaking down barriers, not giving up, caring more than anyone else, and coming together to build a better world, one in which we don’t have to kill one another. One person can make a difference, but a group of dedicated people, working together. That makes an impact so large we just might change the course of the world.”

12. Adrianna Quintero | Executive Director, Voces Verdes

CREDIT: Adrianna Quintero / LinkedIn

Voces Verdes is a coalition of Latino-owned businesses and organizations whose work aims to protect the nearly one out of every two Latinos who now live in the country’s top 25 most ozone-polluted cities. That stat coupled with the fact that Latinos are less likely to have health insurance than any other racial or ethnic group makes climate change a serious human rights issue and Quintero isn’t backing down from policymakers.

13. Dr. Sergio Rimola | Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University

CREDIT: Dr. Sergio Rimola. Digital Image. Medium. 11 April 2018

Dr. Sergio Rimola is an OB in northern Virginia and leads the National Hispanic Medical Association. He tells Medium, “It is extremely important to raise awareness in our communities so they can become a strong voice and political power to persuade our legislators to support measures that protect the environment. For this to happen we need more Latino scientists, activists, politicians, doctors, concerned mothers, you name it, to join the movement.”

14. Christiana Figueres | Former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. Positive.News. 11 April 2018.

The precedent to Patricia Espinosa C. (slide 7), Figueres’ impact on the UN is significant. She was one of the major influencers of the Paris Agreement, you know, the one POTUS pulled out of. Since retiring, she actually hasn’t retired. She’s been heading up the Mission 2020 initiative.

In an interview with Positive.News, she shared, “Addressing climate change is an opportunity, and a catalyst for the kind of world we want to see. It is a catalyst for modernising our built environment, our agriculture system, our energy infrastructure, so they all perform to 21st century standards.”

15. Lydia Avila | Executive Director, Power Shift Network

CREDIT: “Lydia Avila.” Digital Image. Powershift. 11 April 2018

The Power Shift Network aims to empower youth to advocate in their own communities for clean energy and environmental justice. Using grassroots initiatives, she believes that making a global impact begins at a local level and we couldn’t agree more.

16. Michael Anthony Mendez | Associate Research Scientist, Yale University

CREDIT: “Picture.” Digital Image. michaelanthonymendez.com. 11 April 2018

Mendez currently serves as a faculty fellow and research scientist at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and teaches courses on social equity and environmental policy. He’s also publishing a book this year, “Climate Change from the Streets,” which will look more in-depth to the narratives of climate change advocates.

In his own words, “Research and environmental policy are my passions; together as a community, we can innovate the city, economy, and our environments.”

17. Natalia Arias | Director of Programs, CLEO Institute

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. Nexus Media News. 11 April 2018

The CLEO Institute is a nonprofit dedicated to climate change education, engagement, and advocacy in local communities, specifically Miami. Arias heads up the programs offered which include connecting environmentally conscious business owners, teachers, students and offer basic trainings in what climate change even is.

18. Nicole Hernandez Hammer | Climate Science Advocate, Union of Concerned Scientists

CREDIT: “Climate Researcher Guest at SOTU.” Digital Image. Newsweek. 11 April 2018

Y’know how the oceans are rising? Well Hammer is a sea-level scientist who is studying how those changes will affect Latino communities on the coast. She was invited to sit next to Michelle Obama while President Obama delivered his State of the Union in 2015.

She told Newsweek, “Currently, in South Florida, we have tidal floods. The high tide combined with sea level rise causes tidal flooding. According to a Union of Concerned Scientists report on tides, by 2045 that will happen around 240 times a year. So that means we will have more days of flooding than non-flooding. That’s why I’m doing this.”

19. Juan Parras | Executive Director, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. Sierra Club. 11 April 2018

Juan Parras grew up in Big Spring, Texas, during a time when there was a literal railroad track that divided white people from people of color. When the town’s oil refinery exploded, the City of Big Spring had to use sewage treatment water for human consumption, and from there T.E.J.A.S. was born.

20. Yessenia Funes – Reporter, Earther

CREDIT: “NKV_7650 (1).jpg” Digital Image. Yosenia.com. 11 April 2018

A poet and activist, Yessenia is a New York-based journalist who reports on race and the environment exclusively. She’s currently covering the environmental justice beat for Earther. She just published a powerful piece titled, “The Puerto Rican Town Left to Stew in Toxic Waste.”

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Conservationists At Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve Are Being Murdered And Investigators Aren’t Sure Why

Things That Matter

Conservationists At Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve Are Being Murdered And Investigators Aren’t Sure Why

Alan Ortega / Getty

Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve is one of the world’s most famous wildlife hotspots. Hundreds of thousands come each year to view the annual migration of millions of beautiful butterflies that call Mexico’s Michoacan state home during the winter.

However, this iconic and majestic habitat for one of the world’s most endangered animals is now the backdrop for a dramatic murder mystery that is unfolding in international headlines. Two conservationists have been discovered dead just days apart and investigators still aren’t sure why.

A second victim has been pronounced killed by authorities in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly reserve.

Credit: Alan Ortega / Getty

One of the world’s most beautiful wildlife spots is now the backdrop for a dramatic double murder after two nature activists are discovered dead at Mexico’s El Rosario monarch butterfly sanctuary.

The deaths of Homero Gomez Gonzalez, manager of the butterfly reserve, and Raul Hernandez Romero, a tour guide at the sanctuary, have sent shockwaves across the world of wildlife conservation.

Hernandez Romero’s body was discovered on Saturday near the highest point of the mountainous sanctuary, which sits 9,000 feet above sea level in the state of Michoacan, about 130 miles west of Mexico City, according to a statement from the Michoacan state prosecutor’s office. Hernandez Romero’s family reported him missing on Friday, officials said.

The new victim was found just days after the first victim’s body was found after being missing for 16 days.

Credit: Alan Ortega / Getty

Authorities discovered his body about three days after the Hernandez Romero’s body was found in a pond near the Central Mexico town of El Soldado, prosecutors said.

An autopsy performed in the presence of State Human Rights Commission representatives determined Gomez Gonzalez died from “mechanical asphyxiation” after suffering head trauma and being submerged in water.

Gomez Gonzalez, whose family reported him missing two weeks ago, was one of the region’s most prominent conservation activists and a vocal defender of the monarch butterflies. He had launched a campaign against illegal logging that threatens the butterflies nesting grounds.

Although petty crime and theft is common in these parts of Mexico, authorities don’t believe this to be the case in Gonzalez’s death. He was found with about $9,000 pesos (or about $500 USD) on him when his body was discovered.

Mexico’s Monarch butterfly preserve is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Each winter, millions of monarch butterflies make their home at the El Rosario reserve in Mexico — one of the best places in the world to see them. Local guides lead tourists up the mountainside on foot and horseback to where the monarchs cluster in fir and pine trees. Their bright orange wings flit amid the mild weather of Michoacán, and signs ask for silence as visitors enter the nesting areas.

The El Rosario sanctuary is part of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which was enshrined as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, calling the overwintering concentration of butterflies there “a superlative natural phenomenon.” It noted that more than half of overwintering colonies of the monarch butterfly’s eastern population are found in these specific areas of Mexico.

But the same forests that draw butterflies to migrate thousands of miles each winter are under threat from illegal logging and clandestine avocado farms.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Officials in the state of Michoacán said they were unsure if the two deaths were linked – or related to the men’s work in the butterfly reserve. The state has seen a rising tide of violence in recent years, and the region around the monarch butterfly reserve has been rife with illegal logging, despite a ban imposed to protect the monarchs, which winter in the pine- and fir-covered hills.

Some illegal clearcutting is also carried out to allow for the planting of avocado orchards – one of Mexico’s most lucrative crops and an important part of Michoacán’s economy.

The deaths again called attention to the disturbing trend in Mexico of environmental defenders being killed as they come into conflict with developers or local crime groups, who often have political and police protection.

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Greta Thunberg’s Subtle Clap-Back At Donald Trump Fo Her Time Person Of The Year Title Is Amazing

Entertainment

Greta Thunberg’s Subtle Clap-Back At Donald Trump Fo Her Time Person Of The Year Title Is Amazing

gretathunberg / Instagram

The Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is just 16 years old but she sure knows how to get the best of men in power. The environmentalist who managed to grasp the attention of the world within a matter of year and refocus our attention on the health of our planet has done so by condemning world leaders through passionate speeches and damning essays. Speaking to the world at the  United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York in late September of this year, the teen shamed leaders for their inaction in the climate crisis. “You have stolen my childhood and my dreams with your empty words,” she spat out. “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us for hope. How dare you?” 

Her scalding words and personal strike at Donald Trump, during her visit at the time seemed triggering for the U.S. president who in true-Trump fashion mocked her on Twitter. In a belittling tweet the president wrote “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”

The tweet only inspired the bright men further, choosing to respond indirectly to his attack and embrace his title she added the words “a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future” to her Twitter bio. 

The Swedish activist and inspiration is back at again, this time after Trump got a bit too green for his own good after she was giving Time’s title of Person of The Year.

On Wednesday, Trump, aged 73 and an extreme climate change denier, tweeted about Greta’s big TIME honor.

It was announced the Thunberg had been named Person of the Year by Time magazine this week for her uncompromising contribution to changing the course of the climate crisis. Most watching were relieved to find that the magazine had selected Thunberg in favor of a figure like Donald Trump. ( In 2016, the magazine selected Trump after his presidential election and disruption of traditional politics.) His selection had disgusted those who’d watched his horrendous campaign and attacks on women, people of color and other minorities throughout his campaign. So to say that the selection of a person devoted to changing the world for the better delighted most of us, would be an understatement.  Donald Trump however, proved to be extremely unhappy. 

In a tweet about her newest title, Trump called the decision “ridiculous.” “So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!” he tweeted. Taking a tip from his last attack, Thunberg used his words for her latest Twitter bio update.   Now it reads: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”

In case you’re still left wondering, who exactly is Greta Thunberg and what is she campaigning for, ask no further, we got you covered. Here are just a few facts on the relentless teenage activist who has called out world leaders and scolded their actions on this hugely important issue.

“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction,” Thunberg told the summit. “And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

Greta first gained notoriety after staging a “School Strike for Climate” in front of the Swedish parliament in August last year.

CREDIT: @SHALLOW_NEL / TWITTER

Thunberg’s idea of a global walk-out in the name of climate change drew millions of young people around the world demanding change. Last year, she was along in front of the Swedish parliament demanding action.

She continued to gain popularity after speaking at the U.N. Climate Talks in Poland in December of 2018. “This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced,” she said to UN secretary-general António Guterres before the conference. “First we have to realize this and then as fast as possible do something to stop the emissions and try to save what we can save.”

Her strike for climate change inspired young people all around the world, resulting in tens of thousands of students to join her #FridaysforFuture school walkout demonstrations. Young people in more than 123 countries skipped school to demand tighter climate policies and the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Her actions to fight against climate change caught the attention of the people at the Nobel Peace Prize.

Greta was nominated for a Nobel peace prize, which would make her the youngest recipient of the award won by the likes of Nelson Mandela, and Mikhail Gorbachev. “We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change it will be the cause of wars, conflict, and refugees.” said Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy André Øvstegård in an interview with The Guardian.

She is leading by example.

The teenager traveled to the US on board a zero-emission sailboat to draw attention to the greenhouse gas emissions caused by air travel. A single round-trip flight between New York and California generates roughly 20 percent of the greenhouse gases your car emits in a year. In Sweden, she is said to be credited for the spread of the term ‘flygskam’ which translates to “flight shame,” which has encouraged Swedes to avoid traveling by air.

She has Asperger’s and won’t be shamed about it.

Four years ago, Greta was diagnosed with Asperger’s, a form of autism. “Being different is a gift,” she told BBC. “It makes me see things from outside the box…If I would’ve been like everyone else, I wouldn’t have started this school strike for instance.”

Her biggest inspiration is an American Civil Rights icon.

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Heading into Lisbon!!

A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) on

Rosa Parks is reportedly Greta Thunberg’s inspiration. “One person can make such a huge difference,” she said to Rolling Stone magazine about the civil rights activist who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus.

Thunberg’s glare at President Trump is a social media mood.

Greta’s speech this Monday didn’t go down well with President Donald Trump, who has questioned climate change and has challenged every major U.S. regulation aimed at combating it. He took to twitter to mockingly comment on the 16-year-old activist: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”

Her fight is not slowing down.

Greta continues to miss school on Fridays to protest climate change. This year on September 20, she led the largest climate strike in history, which included an estimated 4 million people across 161 countries to combat the use of fossil fuels and their catastrophic effects on global warming and future generations worldwide.

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