It’s hard to have faith in sound environmental policy these days in the United States. For example, President Obama and Ken Salazar are set to okay offshore “exploratory” drilling in the Arctic this week (even though we already know what can happen), the country is experiencing a record drought not seen since the early 1900s, yet politicians still don’t mention climate change and more and more it seems as if people are simply drowning in all the negative environmental news that’s floating around and don’t want to hear any more. It’s enough to make any environmentalist want to scream.
Thankfully, however, there’s good news beaming through the mainstream media cloud that not only shows an increasing number of Americans believe climate change is real, but show that an astounding 90 percent of Latino voters believe protecting America’s land and water is critical to the vitality of the planet and our economy. A recent poll by the Sierra Club and the National Council of La Raza entitled the “2012 Latinos and the Environment Survey” found that, almost unanimously, members of this constituency appreciate the economic and social value of America’s lands. Specifically:
90 percent of Latino voters agree that “protecting our land and water is critical to our economy and the ability to maintain and create jobs now and in the future.”
86 percent say that “national parks and monuments support millions of jobs across the United States. Protecting our public lands benefits the economy and creates jobs.”
91 percent agree with the statement that “hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities are part of my community’s way of life; protecting land and water protects my culture, my family and my community.”
An additional question asked “would you favor or oppose designating more of our existing public lands as National Monuments?” Nearly 70 percent of poll takers responded that yes, they would favor this action. So why is this? Is it because more Latinos are connected to their land? Perhaps location has something to do with it?
In 2010, the U.S. Census reported that 41 percent of the country’s Hispanics lived in the West, which is where most of the country’s public lands are located, and westerners are shown to “have a strong connection to land conservation and its economic value.”
Still, what’s most telling is arguably not the actual results of this poll, but the fact that more positive environmental news like this doesn’t hit major news outlets. I suppose the adage that bad news sells still reigns true, yet in a world faced with so many daunting environmental challenges, one would think that uniting together to come to constructive conclusions on how best to protect what we all value would make sense. Comfort in numbers and positive feedback to keep up the fight for clean air, water, land and, inevitably, our planet is more important than ever. It would also behoove our political representatives to listen to the voice of their constituents, but that’s a story for another day…
Photo Credit: Staplegunther