First Lady Michelle Obama knew what she was doing when she invited Nicole Hernandez Hammer, a "sea level researcher", as a guest during the State of the Union last week. Not only is climate change a "hot" topic but, as an immigrant from Guatemala with Cuban heritage, Nicole has a first-hand connection to how the health of the Latino community is being adversely affected by climate change. Michelle Obama understands full well the importance of including and spotlighting key populations, such as the Hispanic/Latino community in the climate solution discussion.
Through the research of ecoAmerica, we have learned how important it is to align climate messages with audiences' viewpoints and values and to put yourself in their shoes. The Hispanic/Latino community now represents 17% of the total population—the largest ethnic group in the U.S. Of course, there are also other crucial racial and ethnic groups that understand and respond to climate change issues in their own way. American Climate Values 2014: Insights by Racial and Ethnic Groups offers data, analysis, and recommendations for climate advocates to consider when refining strategies to deepen engagement with these key groups.
For example, according to the above report, "Because a portion of Hispanic/Latino Americans make up the majority of our nation’s farm and construction workers, they are more vulnerable to the kind of job displacement that has/can arise from climate change. Farming is expected to become an increasingly uncertain business as climate impacts grow in frequency and intensity. Climate solutions that protect health and stabilize employment will preserve the health and wellbeing of Hispanic/Latino Americans, and also that of the U.S. overall."
The First Lady's choice of company for the State of the Union address broadcasts that climate change is a real issue for all Americans. As such, we are starting to see diverse leaders step forward to take active roles in communicating the challenges and opportunities arising from our changing climate.
Monday, January 19, 2015
A South Florida "sea level researcher" will be a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama during the State of the Union tomorrow.
A White House news release said:
"Growing up in South Florida, Nicole Hernandez Hammer knows firsthand the impacts of climate change and sea level rise and is raising awareness to the disproportionate effects felt along the coast and beyond. As a sea level researcher she has studied how cities and regions most vulnerable to the effects of climate change also have large concentrations of Hispanics. She immigrated from Guatemala and also has Cuban heritage, and now Nicole works to mobilize the Latino community to understand and address the devastating effects that disproportionately affect the health of Hispanics and their families. To that end, Nicole works with Moms Clean Air Force to further the public’s awareness of climate change on children’s health. Nicole lives in Southeast Florida with her husband and her son." (More bio here.)
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