By Maria Cardona
The earth has a powerful way of reminding us who is in charge. In the past month, our Mother Earth has been sending us a message loud and clear: climate change is happening now and the impact can be devastating.
Scientists remind us that there is no storm that can definitively be attributed to climate change, and while it is important to remember this, the combination of Super Typhoon Haiyan, tornadoes in Illinois and the cyclone in Sardinia came together to send a strong warning. Just as we learned in the discussion that took place for years about smoking cigarettes, waiting for conclusive evidence has left us at a disadvantage and not prepared to cope with these extreme storms.
No matter which side of the debate you are on regarding energy and climate change, the answer to the question about human influence on the environment should no longer be a yes or no, but rather how much has already been affected and what should we do now to prevent further damage.
Despite the repeated comments from those who deny climate change and politicians whose campaigns are funded by the fossil fuel industry, climate science leaves little room for debate. Last September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report indicating that human activity, primarily the burning of oil, gas and coal, is responsible for global warming since the mid-20th century.
In addition, based on data from our own National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) concluded that 2012 was probably the warmest year in the 48 continental states.
This data translates into the worst drought in 50 years, wildfires burned more than 9.2 million hectares in our country.
Instead of continuing to debate the science or act against it, challenging the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop carbon pollution that causes climate change, we should support efforts to develop effective and inclusive ways to get away from power plants that burn coal and work to develop a way for homes and buildings to be more energy efficient, to be a better fuel economy and create resilient communities that can better cope with extreme weather, hotter summers and unpredictable winters. In a recent survey from Voces Verdes and Latino Decisions, 86% of Latinos supported President Obama’s steps to limit the pollution that causes climate change. Although Latinos are not traditional environmentalists, we understand the circumstances.
Pollution is a fight for public health rather than a partisan or intellectual discussion
At the end of the day, the fact is that our planet does not care about the politics of climate change, so the health of our children and grandchildren depends on our willingness to take action today.
Maria Cardona is a Democratic Strategist and a Principal at the Dewey Square Group, where she founded Latinovations. She is also a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton, and former communications director to the Democratic National Committee.
This article originally appeared in Latinovations, and in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic.