TX - Forum: Hispanic climate advocates looking to protect the ocean
Growing up Latina, in a borderland city 12 hours away from the water, the ocean became my annual sanctuary. Every year, my family took a vacation to the Texas Gulf Coast blasting Selena albums on our way to Corpus Christi or South Padre Island.
I remember making sandcastles, searching for seashells, reading a book, and just enjoying the view of the water.
Over the years, there was a noticeable increase in trash, less seashells, and more pollution in the beaches. I slowly started to feel out of place, uncomfortable, and concerned about the area’s health. Being deprived of a clean, healthy ocean, especially during the pandemic, has been a challenge, for myself and underserved communities throughout Texas.
President Biden’s recent executive orders had several ocean protection provisions, including addressing the climate crisis, reducing pollution and protecting 30 percent of America’s oceans by 2030. Latinos across the U.S. have deep connections to the ocean, and Hispanic Access Foundation supports fostering those connections with the policies in the executive order. They will preserve the ecosystems on which we depend, provide safe havens to help wildlife adapt to climate change, and sustain natural systems that store carbon.
Over the summer, HAF published "Nuestro Océano y la Costa: Latino Connections to the Ocean and Coast" to demonstrate the depth of Latino involvement in the ocean and coast: the economy, recreation, and Latino cultural heritage. We did this to illustrate the stake Latinos have in ocean health, especially when it comes to threats from pollution, acidification, sea-level rise, and a worsening hurricane season.
Our report looked at polling across the United States, and found Latinos are more worried about climate change than other demographics. They are also more concerned about pollution, and support reducing it. Latinos are more likely to find the ocean important to their emotional well-being, and 73 percent agree ocean health is essential to human survival. Lastly, both inland and coastal Latinos love all forms of water recreation.