Op-Ed: Climate change increasingly forcing Puerto Ricans to flee island
The changes our planet is undergoing due to human activity has been a growing topic of discussion in recent years. As the damage we’re creating has gotten harder to ignore, finding someone who isn’t concerned about climate change is, thankfully, becoming more and more difficult.
It’s hard to find a news channel that isn’t covering this pressing and continuous story regularly and online publications are flooded with articles detailing what individuals can do to help. While some may argue that systemic change is the only thing that will make a real difference, many of them still support the argument that without changes to our individual lives, nothing will get better.
The amount we travel, how much meat we consume, the amount of plastic we use and even the number of children we have are all aspects of our lives that now need extra consideration for the planet’s sake.
However, few have their lives changed by climate change more than those forced to flee their country due to this current crisis. The small sacrifices many of us need to make are rightfully shadowed by the thought of leaving the place you’ve been raised and call home due to global warming.
With more of our beautiful planet becoming inhabitable due to temperature increases and/or a rise in natural disasters, the people that live in these places are finding themselves having to uproot their whole lives and move to another country.
While it’s hard to find a part of the world that hasn’t felt the impact of climate change, countries that are experiencing the more immediate effects are those in the third or developing world. These nations often feel an increased pressure due to a lack of finances and funding that could be put towards aid and preventative measures.
The citizens of these countries are often torn between staying and weathering the storm or leaving if they are fortunate enough to be able to do so. Places where they may seek refuge are often countries currently seeing less of an impact and while these countries may be more than happy to welcome them, this doesn’t take away the difficulty that can come with being forced out of your home by mother nature.
This is a very true reality when it comes to those moving from Puerto Rico to the United States. Due to where the beautiful island is located, as well as places like San Juan and Fajardo being on the coast, it can be susceptible to natural disasters such as hurricanes.
This has led many Puerto Rican natives to feel the need to leave the homes they love. While there are many cultural and business benefits that the United States receive from people moving to the mainland, it doesn’t take away how difficult it can be to leave somewhere that has always been home for you.
Whether it’s struggling to adapt or facing the hurdles that can arise when trying to have family members come and join them, it can be difficult to move at the best of times. While Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, it can still be difficult for those from there to move to the mainland.
As more of us become aware of our impact on the planet, both as individuals and on a societal level, a great step to keep in mind is to consider those who have had to leave everything they know behind because of the damage that has already been caused.
Doing our best to reduce any further damage, donating to any relevant charities that help to support the citizens of Puerto Rico and making sure that anyone you know who is having trouble moving to the U.S. has the right help, are all important steps when trying to make a difference.