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Family is a critical aspect in the lives of many Latinos.
Moreover, research has shown that members of Latino families can heavily influence each other when it comes to physical, mental health and a wide range of political views.
This includes the way this population views climate change, according to a recent report from Cornell University.
“Feeling a sense of connection and commitment to your family, and believing that family considerations should guide our everyday decisions, may shape consensus views within a family, including for a societal problem like climate change,” Adam Pearson, an associate professor of psychological science at Pomona College, told the Cornell Chronicle. “And this may have implications for the sharing of climate beliefs and concerns within Latino families.”
Report Explores Latino Family Values on Climate Change
The Cornell report shows that Latino “family values are a much stronger predictor of climate opinions and policy support than political views.”
“There’s a growing body of work that finds that Hispanics and Latinos in the U.S. report some of the strongest environmental concerns – concerns about climate change specifically – and support for climate mitigation,” Jonathon Schuldt, an associate professor of communication at Cornell, told the Cornell Chronicle.
“Familism” is the Latino cultural value that places centrality and prioritization of the immediate and extended family in the lives of those in such systems, from parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles to others such as close friends, neighbors, and fellow church members.
This is critical information for those trying to understand how family values impact Latino political beliefs, according to Rainer Romero-Canyas, Chief Social Scientist of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
“Of all Latinos, it’s the most important predictor, and even more important than politics,” he told the Florida News Times. “That’s interesting to me. Looking at whites, familyism also predicts their beliefs about climate, but not as strong as politics. Among Latin Americans, when it comes to climate change, family members It seems that the values exceed the political values. “
This is a critical aspect of health — both positively and negatively.
“The relationship with how Latinx individuals relate to familism constructs have direct and indirect effects on quality of life, symptom management and distress. Additionally, protective behaviors such as familial support determines better disease management behaviors,” wrote Karen Mancera Cuevas of Northwestern University. “Negative effects of familism can include a sense of forced compliance to adopt unhealthy dietary patterns or following certain demands with public behavior (i.e. withholding of HIV positive status) because of fear of alienation with immediate family and community.”
The Cornell study that Latino family influence also extends to climate issues.
“Whereas political ideology and education predicted Whites’ climate change beliefs and support for mitigation policy, these factors were substantially weaker predictors of Latinos’ climate beliefs and policy support,” the report states. “In contrast, familism emerged as a robust predictor of Latinos’ climate-related beliefs and policy support.”
Climate Change and Latinos
Global warming is making life harder for Latinos and other communities of color.
Given current and historical emissions levels, Americans, specifically, are looking down the barrel of a hot, uncomfortable future.
Respiratory illness rates reflect this inequity, which include:
- Black and Latino children in the U.S. are diagnosed with asthma at higher rates than white children.
- Latino children are almost twice as likely to die from asthma as white children.
- For Black children the death rate from asthma is almost eight times higher than for white children.
A groundbreaking 2019 study estimated that “Black and Latino populations experience 56% and 63% more pollution respectively than their activities cause.”
Worse, this crisis will have significantly worse repercussions on underserved groups, including Latinos. These populations will have a more challenging time dealing with future consequences, but they are already enduring its current impacts.
Climate change could lead to nearly 300 cities becoming uninhabitable.
Some of America’s most significant cities face the highest risks, as most are near a coast. These urban hubs contain large populations, capital assets, and ports that influence the national economy.
What Can I Do to Address Climate Change?
You can share crucial environmental information with your local leaders, too.
If you’d like to continue making a difference in your community’s sustainability practices, you can download a Salud America! Health Equity Report Card.
The report card will show you how you will see how your county is doing on various health-related conditions compared to the rest of your state and nation. The data will show how your area stacks up in air toxin exposure, respiratory hazard indices, population density, tree canopy, and job rates in the agricultural, construction, and manufacturing fields.
Email your Health Equity Report Card to community leaders. Share it on social media. Use it to make the case to for health equity where it is needed most!