Latinos and Climate Change: More Bad news for GOP Deniers
February 22, 2013
Following President Obama’s comments about climate change in his state of the union address, a national poll was conducted by the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) to gauge how Latinos responded.
“In light of state of the union, we wanted to see where Latinos stood on Obama’s comments about climate change,” Adrianna Quintero, director of Voces Verdes, a group that worked with the NRDC on the poll, told Fox News Latino.
The poll showed 74 percent of Latinos — 1,218 were polled — believe climate change is a very serious problem.
This number is almost 10 percent higher than the national average among all American adults.
The survey findings are a clear rejection of the dismissive tone taken by Senator Marco Rubio in his response to Obama’s State of the Union address. Rubio shrugged off the need for action on climate change, saying “our government can’t control the weather.”
Latinos clearly disagree with Rubio, with a strong majority convinced that action is needed soon to reduce a real threat of climate disruption.
Released on the heels of the hottest year ever in the U.S. and one marked by extreme weather, the poll of Latinos conducted by Public Policy Polling for NRDC found:
- 74 percent of Latinos believe climate change is a serious or very serious problem, a higher level than the 65 percent among all American adults.
- 68 percent of Latinos support the president using his authority to reduce dangerous carbon pollution, including 60 percent of all American adults.
- 69 percent of Latinos agree with the president’s statement that “for the sake of our children” and our future, we must do more to combat climate change, compared to 62 percent of all American adults.
Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, said: “This survey certainly debunks any notion that Sen. Rubio is the voice of Latinos on climate change. What is perhaps most striking in the findings is that Latinos back President Obama’s climate changeand clean energy agenda even more strongly than it is embraced by the broad cross-section of American adults. Right across the line, Latinos see climate change as a serious problem happening right now that requires an engaged President who takes the initiative to crackdown on industrial carbon pollution.”
In one sense, this should come as no surprise. Minorities are more likely to live in areas burdened by extreme pollution, and young people are the ones fated to spend the rest of their lives coping with worsening climate change. Of the 6 million people living within three miles of America’s coal-fired power plants, 39 percent are minorities, according to a report by the NAACP, “Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People.”
Nevertheless, the notion that Latinos, blacks and Asian-Americans are the nation’s most fervent greens contradicts the stereotype of environmentalists as white, upper-middle-class Prius drivers. And that stereotype contains enough truth that the emergence of a super-green constituency of minorities and youth—a constituency likely to grow as America’s demographic transition unfolds—presents enormous but challenging opportunities for mainstream environmental groups. In most cases, those groups rhetorically affirm the value of diversity even as their operations remain dominated by white, middle-aged staffers and funders and the strategies and tactics they pursue.
“It’s a little like how the Republican Party ran away from demographic realities for years, and then realized after the 2012 election that they had made a gigantic mistake,” says Manuel Pastor, director of the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California. “The mainstream environmental groups have to realize that working with Latinos and African-Americans and Asian-Americans and youth is not just the morally right thing to do—it’s the politically effective thing to do. And it will only become more so over time.”