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Climate Change Rollbacks and the Risks Latinos Could Face

This is a guest blog post by Josh McCormack for the Every Body Walk! July Monthly Theme “Climate and Health” for the #Walk4Change quarter. McCormack is a digital content curator at Salud America!, a national Latino, health equity media organization based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio. Learn more about Josh here, and follow him on Twitter @_joshmccormack.

President Trump’s administration has launched many efforts to combat climate change policies and reduce government’s role in environmental protection, which have met opposition from environmental and health activists.

Researchers and lawmakers alike say these hindrances and reductions could have long-term impacts. For example, 35 U.S. cities could be underwater by 2100. Americans cannot afford any backward momentum in this issue.

Latinos, who already face harsh impacts from pollution, will also bear a significant burden of the detrimental impact of climate change, including:

  • Health problems worsening such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, respiratory issues, etc.
  • Development of diseases such as cholera, malaria, dengue, Lyme disease, etc.
  • Societal concerns such as lack of clean water access, malnutrition, forced migration, etc.

Cars, which are a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, pose a danger to the environment —they can also impact childhood brain development.

Minimizing the number of cars on the road through more people walking and taking modes of public transportation will make positive advancements in saving the planet.

Reducing Long-Term Climate Science

In July, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) announced it would only project potential climate change impacts through 2040.

The Trump administration said they enacted such efforts to fight back against climate change alarmists.

Experts say this is extremely worrying because the worst effects might not occur until after that time. Furthermore, this rule will go to diminish the public’s understanding of the problem at-large.

“Failing to look beyond 2040 [on climate science] is like pretending a baby born today won’t live past 21,” writes Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Speak up for climate science by sending the USGS an email to reverse this directive!

Rolling Back Clean Energy Initiatives

Keeping his campaign promise, President Trump led a successful effort to rescind Obama-era green energy regulations set on the coal industry.

These new regulations downgrade standards to reduce America’s emissions levels and let energy plants operate longer than previously established hours, making it less healthy for people to be outside.

“No matter how you slice it, this is a dramatic retrenchment” Jody Freeman, a professor of environmental law at Harvard University and a former Obama legal counselor, told the New York Times. “It’s not just that they’re doing very small, modest steps to reduce emissions. It’s that they’re not creating momentum to substitute renewables and substitute natural gas for coal.”

Decreasing Clean Air and Water Protections

Current administration officials have also taken steps to lessen the federal government’s role in protecting the atmosphere, rivers and lakes, and groundwater.

Worse, researchers say these rollbacks pose immediate threats to human and environmental health.

In May, President Trump’s EPA proposed to revisions the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS) — the regulatory standards set to decrease coal-burning power plants from polluting the atmosphere.

MATS not only shifted the climate change needle in the right direction, but it also resulted in averting heart attacks, asthma complications, and premature deaths by the thousands.

“EPA blinds itself to relevant facts, ignoring data regarding the actual costs and benefits of controlling power-plant hazardous air pollution and instead proposing to rely on a stale and incomplete record that EPA knows is obsolete and not reflective of facts on the ground,” a coalition of 21 attorneys general said in an April statement.

Experts, researchers, and professionals across the board seem to be sending a similar message: Climate change is nothing to overlook, and if we don’t take dedicated action soon, there will be terrible consequences where people walk, live, learn, and play.

Act today, and send the USGS an email!