I know about global warming. Trust me. I have heard a million times about how California will be underwater and that I may not live to have that great future that I am working so fervently towards in my youth. But as a young Latina and middle-class Midwesterner, I hadn't ever been forced to confront the destructive reality of climate change, not like the people whose houses were torn out of the ground and whose food supplies were decimated due to hurricanes, tropical storms, and things of the like.
Before this summer, global warming was a non-corporal, distant evil that was more something of my imagination than any reality I had to face. It wasn't until I was emailing my Tia that I realized the very real and imminent threat that our carbon emissions and energy sources are causing.
"Well, yeah, Cuba is hot," you might say, and I'd have to agree. But, hot is different, hot is something the Cuban people have been dealing with since the Islands first inhabitants. This is more than just hot, this is insufferable.
When I was planning on visiting my Tia and other family, she cautioned me that now, summer has extended. There was a large number of months when she said it would be too hot to visit because it's too hot to do anything. Especially in a country where air conditioning is for the well off and cold tile flooring is about as cooling as it gets for most, this is a serious issue.
In a country where many of the federal programs are broken, and much of the elderly population like my Great Aunt Angelita don't have proper care, the heat can be deadly. My 90-year-old aunt, sits in her chair in a warm room all day long, doing what she can to beat the heat but unable to go outside.
This issue extends beyond the elderly and is beginning to impact their society as a whole.
If this is what it's like when I'm 18, what will this world be like when I'm 28? What about 48? (If we even make it there?)
The irony in all of this is that the Cuban people are not the ones emitting more CO2 than any other country, they aren't the ones ordering millions of packages per day from Amazon Prime, and they aren't the ones going through the Starbucks drive-thru every morning.
That's us. People in first world countries, with access to resources like the ones I listed abuse them, myself included. But our actions have consequences. I don't see how it's fair that my family and many like it should be suffering through natural disasters that they are unequipped to deal with or that the government refuses to help with (*cough*Puerto Rico*cough*) just so that I can have that new cheetah print top that will be cool for 20 minutes. It's not fair that families are struggling through heat stroke so that I don't have to get a book from the library down the street and can order it online instead.
I have been eco-friendly. I don't use plastic water bottles, I am conscious. Clearly, that isn't enough. Drastic times call for drastic changes. The world is deteriorating at an alarming rate and it's on us to make real sacrifices (RIP cute wardrobe) to stop these changes that are disproportionately affecting those without the recourses to do anything about it.
I love shopping but fast fashion and shipping are some of the largest single contributors to global climate change. Taking a couple months to try to thrift and re-buy as much as I can may not seem like a lot for most, but it's a big deal for me. It is also just the beginning.
So now I turn it to you, to help my family and others like them. Give something up, it might be hard, but you probably don't need it, and two-thirds of people in the world are probably surviving without it. It's time to take this seriously. If our generation doesn't care then who will?