Latina Vegan Hugs Trees: discussion on climate change


Me in Big Sur hugging a beautiful Sequoia, I think.

I’d like to say that I’m a pretty outdoorsy person. I enjoy being in the open air, feeling the breeze against my face; hearing the birds chirp, even though I’m scared of birds, weird I know. But my favorite, absolute favorite, thing to do: HUG TREES!

I love trees. They are fascinating! They survive under even extreme conditions, they live hundreds of years, oh the stories they could tell, and die nobly and become nutrients in the earth to continue to help their tree friends and family. THEY. ARE. AWESOME and I love hugging them. I just get the overwhelming feeling to hug a tree and I go for it. I’ve crossed barriers in Muir Woods to hug a giant Redwood, I almost spilt my coffee to hug one. I go wild over trees. My goal for 2016 is to become an amateur Arborist, or the more scientific term Dendrologist.

So as you can tell from my love of trees, and all living beings, why I would want to discuss CLIMATE CHANGE.

Yes my friends, it’s true. The climate is changing and not the normal changes that happen over decades and centuries. This is person-made and person-maintained and person-evolved climate change. Yikes! And anyone that tries to argue otherwise is just trying to live up to the “ignorance is bliss” saying. But like someone I know who used to say “just because you don’t believe in the devil, doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe in you”, so just because you don’t believe in climate change, doesn’t mean that it’s not real. I don’t believe in the devil, to each their own, but I do believe in climate change because there is evidence of its existence. It’s real and it’s here. And this is not one situation of “to each their own” because people believing in the devil doesn’t hurt me but people not believing in climate change hurts me and every other living being on this planet. And I got a problem with that. So, I wanted to write about and discuss the environment and share my thoughts.

Killing our planet, I don’t think so.

I think it’s so interesting when folks say that we’re killing the planet. I actually disagree. The reason? Homeostasis.

Homeostasis is a scientific term for keeping everything in balance. Our bodies do this through different mechanisms constantly to make sure that our bodies are running optimally. For instance when we eat something with sugar in it, our livers secrete insulin to store the sugar for later use because having too much sugar in the blood causes a lot of complications and not having enough is dangerous too so it stores it for when you need it. But when your liver doesn’t produce enough insulin, or any at all, it can’t store the sugar and so the sugar in the blood is off balance and is the cause of diabetes. And so our bodies like everything in moderation, to keep everything in balance.

Like our bodies, the planet is an organism, albeit a big organism but none the less an organism, and it wants to keep the balance. That’s why we’re seeing these changes in weather and temperature; the earth is trying to keep everything balanced, balance the pollution and the warming atmosphere. At least, that’s my theory and to go with that theory, our high rate of polluting the air and water, cutting down my beloved trees, and digging for oil on land and in the sea is not killing this planet. Oh no, it’s killing US. We are going to go extinct waaaay before this planet will die. This beautiful planet that we call home will kill us before we kill it. How do you think it has survived for millennia? Survival of the fittest, right. Well, the planet can definitely live without us, it might actually be better off, but we sure can’t live without it.

What’s vegan gotta do with it? 

Welp, my friends, being vegan helps not only our bodies and the animals but it also helps the planet. I watched a movie on Netflix a while back called Cowspiracy. Maybe you’ve watched. If you haven’t, please do, it was really good. It gave me the last push I needed to become vegan. But what I like about the film is that it’s not meant for you to become vegan/vegetarian but it’s meant to show the impacts of our agricultural system on our planet and how this one major contributor to climate change is never discussed. The main guy starts the film with trying to find the main contributing factors to climate change and finds that our animals agriculture system is helping to kill us in more ways than just our health. And so to find out more on the subject he  calls on major environmental groups around the world to ask them about the impact of agriculture and no one has a clue or they choose not to answer the question. There was nothing on their websites or social media pages that even hints at the fact the agriculture is the main contributor to climate change, THE main contributor. More so than fracking, car usage etc.

I don’t want to spoil the film if you haven’t seen it but let’s just say that being vegan, or even just lowing your intake of meat, helps sustain our planet.

It’s always about race. Always.

Race always has a role to play in the injustices happening in our community and the environment is no different. The bias that is internalized against people of color allows for injustice to go unchecked but I didn’t understand how race played a role in the environment before and so caring about the environment didn’t really cross my mind. Honestly, I used to see caring about the environment as white people shit. To me, they had nothing else happening to them besides the killing of our planet. I saw too many folks deported, killed, jailed in my community to think about saving the environment. But honestly, just like everything, people of color are hit hardest, even environmental injustice.


Flint water pic
Photo taken from ACLU

Flint, Michigan is a current example of this. About 60% of the population of Flint is POC and about 50% are living below the poverty line, according to Census data. So majority poor, POC (mostly black folks) are being hurt by this crisis. So the polluting of a water source has impacted a black, poor community more than any other. Plus, if the only way to get clean water is to buy it, who do you think will ahve unlimited access to clean water? Rich folks. Poor folks will be limited in how much water they can drink, cook with, bath in etc.

But we can bring this closer to my home in the Bay Area: the Chevron refinery in Richmond, CA. That plant spews all of its crap into the air and those that live nearest, within 1 mile of the refinery, are 80% people of color, according to an Al-Jazeera American report on the refinery. Also stated in that report, a quarter of the folks that live in that area are living under the poverty line. So again, poor, people of color are being impacted the most by environmental pollution. For this example, it includes, high rate of asthma, cancer and polluting of natural resources. This in the world of organizing is called Environmental Racism because the impacts of the pollution are felt disproportionately by poor people of color. SO, people of color, including myself, should and NEED to care about the environment because just like anything else, we are the community that are most impacted by pollution. 


We’re screwed, aren’t we? 

I hope not! Though I’m no environmental scientist. But what I’ve heard is that there is still time to maintain where we’re at. There’s no going back to where we were but we can stop from going forward and that has to be the goal. Though I just read an article about how Stephen Hawking said that the only way to save our species is to start colonizing another planet. I think that’s just running away from the problem we made and start to destroy another planet in our galaxy but that’s neither here or there.

What I do want is to know that I’m contributing as much as I can and even going beyond my own comfortability in making sure that we can save ourselves from ourselves. So luckily, I’ve already gone vegan for the animals, for my health and now for the environment. I’ll also continue to educate myself on other ways to make change, like ride my bike more and walk when I can, recycle and compost, and buy local as much as possible. These are small when looking at the big picture; a tree in a large forest. But isn’t it better to start saving trees, one by one, then to do nothing at all?

How are you contributing already or what are ways that you want to start?