As an evangelical, I believe that "I am my brother's and sister's keeper." That means that I have a moral responsibility to protect those closest to me, as well as my "neighbors" around the world. In my eyes, living this mission includes supporting climate change solutions that will help to clean the air, defend the vulnerable, and provide our children with the best possible future.
In the wake of the EPA's latest announcement of a plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants, some groups have been quick to argue that the regulations will hurt the poor and minorities. Let me first say that though I am skeptical of these group's motives, as a Christian and a Latino, I appreciate any time that the conversation centers on "the least of these." However, while these groups may talk about future costs, they ignore the high price already being paid by the vulnerable. The argument around price tag, "¿Cuánto cuesta? have been pitched to our communities without highlighting the real cost of inaction on families and communities throughout the world.
The price of climate change is being paid every day in the health of our children, families, and communities. According to a recent study, one in ten Latino children suffer from asthma (a number that includes my own son) and Latinos are 30 percent more likely to visit the hospital for asthma than whites. In addition, one in two Latinos lives in areas where ozone levels are considered unhealthy. These conditions are worsened by power plant pollution and the higher temperatures caused by climate change from the carbon they emit.
And that's just the health impacts. We now know that climate change contributes to stronger storms. Based on my own experience helping with Superstorm Sandy relief in New York City, I've seen firsthand how these disasters disproportionately impact the poor. This is not isolated to the United States. Stronger storms and changing weather patterns are disrupting the lives of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, especially Latinos in Central and South America who often lack the resources to prepare and rebuild.
With this said, I support the new power plant regulations and will be participating alongside other religious and Latino leaders this week in Climate Week. This week, the United Nations is hosting a Climate Summit at their New York City headquarters. There, government leaders and renowned scientists will gather to build momentum for an international climate treaty that recognizes the urgency of the challenge and gives voice to the needs of the least.
We hope you will join us in taking positive steps to lead on climate change, whether in your own home, congregation, or community. We hope you will help ensure that that the costs of our inaction do not get passed down to our children and the most vulnerable. We can and must do better for ourselves, our planet, and future generations. The cost of inaction is just too high.