News Coverage

05 January 2024

PUBLIC NEWS SERVICE: Report Brings to Light Climate-Change Impact on Latinos’ Health, Heritage

Category: News Coverage

As climate change makes extreme weather events more common globally, new findings show Latinos often face the most significant effects on their health, safety and livelihoods.

The report from the Hispanic Access Foundation details those impacts and how climate change even erodes cultural legacy when neighborhoods undergo gentrification, displacing traditional communities.

The foundation's conservation program manager, Vanessa Muñoz, said Latinos in every state are experiencing challenges to their mental health and identity due to climate change.

"Some places might suffer severe temperatures and others might be more exposed to flooding or to a lot of wildfires," she said, "which is often where a lot of the Latino communities reside."

In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources has said communities of color often bear the brunt of air pollution and extreme weather events fueled by climate change. State health officials say Latinos are the fastest-growing racial and ethnic population in Wisconsin. According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of Latino adults around the country say climate change already affects their local community.

To promote what she calls a "just transition" towards a climate-friendly economy for all people, Muñoz said the report includes a toolkit and policy recommendations to help communities better preserve Latino heritage.

"One of the ways is joining groups and forces to really protect our lands and prevent that from expanding," she said, "to prevent further loss and damage - which is necessary in these times of climate change."

Latinos are projected to make up 30% of the U.S. population by 2050, and more than half reside in states with the highest levels of climate-change threats. The Hispanic Access Foundation released its "Cultural Erosion" report at the recent COP-28 conference in Dubai.

Written by Mike Moen for the Public News Service.

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