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

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”

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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

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

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

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

“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

“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

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

“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

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

“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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‘Planeta G’ Is A YouTube Series Dedicated To Highlighting Latino Environmental Activists

Things That Matter

‘Planeta G’ Is A YouTube Series Dedicated To Highlighting Latino Environmental Activists

Greenpeace has been fighting to save the planet and the environment since 1971. The Canadian organization has been there to fight for the planet every step of the way and it has fostered new leaders. Planeta G is the latest project out of Greenpeace and it is highlighting Latinos who are in the fight to save the planet and reverse climate change.

Planeta G is here to make sure that Latino environmental activists get the recognition that they deserve.

The bi-weekly web series is centered around exploring the intersectionality between environmental activism and the Latino identity. According to a recent study by Yale, 70 percent of Latinos are concerned about the environment. Latinos are also among the communities more disproportionately impacted by climate change.

According to an interview with Grist, Valentina Stackl and Crystal Mojica started “Planeta G” in order to highlight more Latino voices. Communities of color face several instances of environmental injustice in their communities. This includes lack of access to affordable healthcare, education, and housing.

It is brought to you by two co-hosts: Crystal Mojica.

Mojica is a senior communications specialist for Greenpeace USA and, according to the website, has spent a lot of her career in the environmental space. Mojica, who was raised in Colombia as a child, has volunteered for the Peace Corps and worked to advance reproductive rights for all women.

And Valentina Stackl.

Stackl was born in Europe after her mother, a Jewish-Chilean journalist, fled the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. After moving to the U.S. at 16, Stackl got involved in international environmental justice starting with working with farmworkers.

The co-hosts are also using their platform to remind people to vote and the importance of using their voice.

The next election is drawing near and there are so many reasons for Latinos to vote. They have to make their voices heard and there are several issues that deeply impact the community.

“Latinx people are especially becoming more empowered than ever before to speak out. But we’ve done it before,” Stackl told Grist. “Historically, we think back to Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez and the labor movement. Sometimes we forget that. We care. The experiences of the people that we’ve spoken to on the show reflect that.”

The co-hosts are delivering more than interviews to combat climate change.

It is known that the vegan diet is more sustainable and better for the environment. Being vegan means you are helping to cut down on greenhouse gases from farming. There is also the benefit of not contributing to deforestation for farmland due to the demand of meat in the world.

The vegan versions of Latino foods is still in line with the web series’ mission to challenge dispel myths about Latinos. Planeta G is showing how you can make some delicious versions of Latino food without using all of the animal products. They even promise to fool your mom.

READ: Environmental Advocates Are Offering Tips On How People In Mexico City Can Shop With The New Plastic Bag Ban

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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

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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