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Survey highlights Latinos’ understanding of environmental crisis

LatinaLista — Most Latinos understand there is an undeniable connection between humankind and Mother Earth. While some would attribute that awareness to a heritage steeped in traditional uses of herbal remedies, shamanism and curanderos, others would credit the many media campaigns highlighting the importance of a healthy environment.

Palmer Drought Severity map for August 1, 2012.

Either way, according to a new survey, the vast majority of Latinos are environmentally aware and, in some respects, are even more so than the general public. The 2012 National Latinos and the Environment Survey released jointly by the Sierra Club and NCLR, show that Latinos have definite opinions on the state of climate change, the role of government in maintaining a healthy environment and the extent of personal responsibility when protecting the environment.

Among the survey findings:

  • Pollution of our air and water resources is still the top environmental concern for Latino voters nationwide, with 61% saying it is among the top two environmental issues for them and their families.
  • 43% of Latino voters say they live or work near a toxic site, such as a refinery, a coal-fired power plant, an incinerator, an agricultural field, a major highway, or a factory. This represents a significant increase since 2008, when 34% reported living or working close to a toxic site.
  • 83% agree that “coal plants and oil refineries are a thing of the past. We need to look toward the future and use more energy from clean sources.”
  • More than three-fourths (77%) of Latino voters believe that global climate change is already happening, whereas half (52%) of all Americans say that the effects of global warming have already begun.
  • More than 9-in-10 (92%) Latino voters agree that they “have a moral responsibility to take care of God’s creations on this earth – the wilderness and forests, the oceans, lakes and rivers.”
  • More than 9-in-10 Latino voters (94%) say outdoor activities such as fishing, picnics, camping, and visiting national parks and monuments are important to them and their families.
  • More than 7-in-10 (72%) Latino voters agree that “environmental regulations protect our health and our
  • families by lowering toxic levels of mercury, arsenic, carbon dioxide and other life-threatening pollution in our air and water.”
  • An overwhelming majority (94%) of Latino voters also believe that they and their families can help curb toxic air and water pollution by conserving energy.

While the survey taps into those questions that are increasingly weighing on every person’s mind as weather becomes more extreme around the world and natural disasters are becoming the norm, rather than, the exception, it’s one thing to agree with general statements but another to put specifics into practice.

So far, we’ve seen that unless local authorities or the government impose fines to comply with conserving energy and/or water, voluntary public will still lacks — even among Latinos. The good news is that this survey underscores the fact that the majority of Latinos understand the crisis the planet is approaching and wants to do the right thing but until people are told how, step-by-step, and it’s made convenient to comply, good intentions are all that will be recorded for improving the health of the environment.

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