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Marco Rubio on Climate Change: Latino Electorate Views Climate Change As Threat, Contrasts With Rubio

First Posted: Apr 14, 2015 12:54 PM EDT
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U.S. Latinos have categorized climate change as a threat, but the issue could hurt Sen. Marco Rubio's, R-Fla., presidential bid and hopes to attract the Latino electorate.

While Rubio has said the climate is always changing, he does not believe the issue is man-made or the result of weather-related incidents. In May 2014, Rubio said, "I don't agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what's happening in our climate. Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and - and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that's directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activity."

Rubio added that human activity is not the cause of the "dramatic" changes in the climate, and laws addressing the topic will "destroy" the U.S. economy.

Rubio's state, Florida, however, is at risk of climate change. According to a National Climate Assessment's 2014 report, Florida is threatened by increased inland flooding from sea level rises, which may lead to drainage problems and loss in cropland.

Polling data conducted by Latino Decisions shows that nine in 10 U.S. Latinos want the federal government to take action against climate change. Among the nine in 10 Latinos, 68 percent of Republican Latinos considered climate change was important.

Latinas have a firmer viewer of tackling climate change than Latinos. More Latinas said the government should take on an important role in tackling global warming and climate change, with 92 percent, compared to males with 88 percent. Income also played a role among the Latino community as those earning less than $20,000 a year recognized the need for the government's involvement on climate change. That was a higher percentage rate compared to 86 percent from those with incomes over $86,000 per year.

Following the poll's release, Latino Decisions co-founder Matt Barreto said action on climate change is a high priority for Latinos regardless of their age, income, political party affiliation or where they live.

"Here's an important message for our political leaders, and it cuts across party lines: Latinos intensely support taking action on climate change and fighting air pollution," said Adrianna Quintero, senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council and founder of Voces Verdes. "Latinos in the U.S. recognize the threat that climate change poses to the well-being of our families and the future of our community in this country and abroad, and want our leaders to solve it."

The poll found that 86 percent of respondents stated they were convinced that "we have a moral duty to give our children a clean planet and that our ancestors worked and cared for the Earth, so we must continue their heritage and legacy by fighting climate change and protecting the environment."

With 83 percent, Latinos agreed with the statement, "Climate change is causing our communities in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean to face more dangerous and extreme weather, who often have less resources to respond."

Arturo Carmona, executive director for Presente.org, told ThinkProgress that Rubio is "out of touch" on views of Latino on economic, immigration and environmental levels. He added, "Latino voters will reject political candidates that don't reflect their views."

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