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JUAN DECLET-BARRETO – Latinos Face Economic and Health Threats from Climate Change—and Demand that Our Leaders Take Action

I grew up in the warm and humid latitudes of Puerto Rico. My homeland is in the tropical climatic zone so there are no stark seasonal differences in temperature like those found at lower or higher latitudes outside of the tropics. But from my childhood I recall a slight drop in nighttime temperatures around December—popularly known as the “aires navideños”, or the “Christmas breeze” that heralded the start of the jolly holiday season in Puerto Rico.

But I haven’t felt much of those aires in my recent visits to spend time with family and friends. Warmer temperatures and enduring droughts are now the norm in the Caribbean and elsewhere in Latin America, and climate change is responsible for those shifts.

As a latinoamericano living in the United States, I am acutely aware of the changing climate, how it’s threatening my community’s health and wellbeing, and also of the importance of taking immediate action to halt the anthropogenic carbon pollution that is warming the planet—and so are the large majority of Latinos in the United States.

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