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Climate Change Interview 17: Immigrant - Plano, Illinois

Photo - Harry Strharsky

Live interview: Leo Velazquez – Gen X - Plano, Illinois - Principal Systems Engineer at AT&T Chicago, Illinois

1. What are your thoughts about the claims that the climate is warming, the environment is being destroyed and that humans are the cause?

To me its very interesting when I hear that. I do believe there is a change. I hear it everywhere. I don’t have the personal experience because I grew up in Mexico so half my life is there and half here. When I came to the United States I found the weather similar although the seasons seemed to have moved. The weather here is more extreme so it is difficult to know what is happening in Mexico.

However, in Mexico I hear there are changes. For the first time you see snow near Mexico City and you see snow in the northern areas. Maybe it is a warning. I see the snow in photos from my friends on social media. While that doesn’t seem like global warming it is an indication of extreme weather that comes with climate change. You think you can handle storms but now they are really bad and you worry when you know they are coming.

It is interesting to listen to people like you who lived when it was really cold you couldn’t even go out. Now you have these extremes here. Last year in Chicago we had one of the coldest days ever and they closed everything. That was kind of the first time that you realize that weather is affecting your personal life.

In Mexico, unlike here, when it was raining you just didn’t go anywhere but here you just go on with your daily life. We have the technology and the resources to take care of the weather and you can just go on with your daily life. You just go to practice or take the kids here and there.

2. In your mind what are the driving forces of climate change and environmental degradation?

I think we are using up all the resources of the earth to fast and nature can’t recover. We are consuming way too fast. We are taking more than we are giving back. We have so many more people so we need more resources, more food, more gas, more trees and don’t realize its all getting away from us. More people want more things.

3. Has your life been affected in any way? If so, how?

That’s a great question. I think my daughter has a big influence on me. She is seeing what’s happening. As for me, I really don’t see those changes. It doesn’t seem to be having a direct impact on me. Life seems to be moving faster and faster. I just keep going, work full time, I’m involved in all these activities and it doesn’t seem to impact me but I have an awareness of it. I don’t use plastic bags and avoid straws and I feel shame if I told them I didn’t want a bag or a straw.

Now, however, I’ve changed. I know what is happening. I don’t have a problem with it. Let’s get this done. You know, in Mexico they don’t give you plastic bags. They are banned there. You cannot drive your car one day a week. They are into extreme measures.

I grew up in Mexico City where there was way more pollution and they took extreme measures. Here we don’t have those measures. I mean you wash your car as often as you want. You take it to a car wash and don’t worry about how much water you use. You don’t see people making an effort to use less water. No one seems to care.

4. In your opinion, what needs to be done?

We need to be more aware. Awareness and education are the big thing. Everyone needs to be educated. Right now there is a lot of misinformation out there. People have their own personal interests and they are making things up and saying this whole thing is not real.

We must provide the proper educational resources, provide the proper explanations and give good reasons why we must act. But it shouldn’t be patronizing that turns people off. Rather, show them the information and talk about things that can be done. Listen to them. Then, they will do what is necessary.

I read that there is little education in the schools about climate change and that shocked me. Unless the teacher is really into it it doesn’t happen. There could be pressure or maybe it just isn’t in the curriculum. I don’t know.

People don’t really see what’s happening. If I didn’t have educational opportunities maybe I wouldn’t be doing anything about it either or wouldn’t believe its happening. I read the articles and investigate. It is common sense. We are taking way more out of the environment and not putting enough back in.

5. Do you consider yourself as part of the problem or part of the solution?

I think it’s a combination. We are all consumers. When you are a big consumer you use more resources than you need and I am definitely guilty as charged. At the same time I am conscious about it and I try to do some things to help with the problems. I think if everyone were aware and shared that awareness without someone else on a daily basis then we could get things done.

But are we doing enough? There are countries where children are expected to plant so many trees before they are allowed to graduate. These are third world countries! We do so little compared to them. Why isn’t the United States doing these simple things. It’s crazy. Mexico is also a third world country but they just made the decision to get things done. They passed these common sense laws. Here its all about the money. What the money says the leaders do.

6. What do you think the long-term outcome of climate change and environmental degradation will be?

I think humans are an interesting species. I think, as always, the rich will find a way to overcome the problems at least for themselves. The poor and uneducated will do the suffering. It’s amazing to me that even when I try to improve my eating habits for the world its not easy. Eating healthy is expensive. The poor won’t even be able to do that. They won’t be able to get out of the way.

Maybe super long term we will have to colonize another world. I recommend watching the Disney Channel’s shows on how we are gearing up to travel to Mars and maybe even learn to live there. It is amazing how much we are able to accomplish in space and still are unable to save ourselves on this planet.


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