Statement of Felicity Figueroa

Hello, my name is Felicity Figueroa and I want to thank you all for coming here this afternoon to show your support for real action to address climate change. OC represent!!

I work with a variety of organizations on different social justice causes; but what is interesting is that almost all of them either affect or are affected by the issue of climate change. It’s all about intersectionality.

At Women For: Orange County, we sometimes address the erosion of reproductive rights in this country or the lack of family planning in other parts of the world. This situation often translates into unsustainable population growth which further exacerbates the problems already apparent because of our warming climate.

The intrusion of religious belief into government programs, something we are on the lookout for at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, can lead to misinformation or sometimes no information on climate change in school textbooks and no discussion of its dangers in the science classroom; as a consequence, we have generations of students in our own country who don’t understand and can’t appreciate the immediate threat of this climate challenge.

As members of Friends of Orange County Detainees, when we visit immigrants and asylum seekers in Orange County detention centers, we understand that many of them have been driven to our shores because of prolonged adverse weather conditions in their homelands that have made their agrarian lifestyles no longer tenable. As Naomi Klein points out in her recent New Yorker article, quoting a statement by Secretary of State John Kerry: “It’s not a coincidence that, immediately prior to the civil war in Syria, the country experienced its worst drought on record. As many as 1.5 million people migrated from Syria’s farms to its cities, intensifying the political unrest that was just beginning to roil and boil in the region.”

All of this is why it’s so important for those of us working on distinct progressive social justice causes to realize that climate change is intimately related to and ultimately underlies all of them; and, if we let the inevitable consequences of climate change proceed undeterred, none of these other issues will even matter.

As for me personally, of course I worry about the future for my own children and their offspring if we fail to adequately address the reality of climate change. But we occupy a position of privilege here in Orange County, so I’m sure my kids will be far better off than the children of the Latin American and African detainees we visit, or those of mothers in the Middle East who have minimal resources to cope with rapidly deteriorating conditions or even those families in the poorer areas of our own country who do not have access to the information or financial means to withstand the changes a warming climate will bring.

We are all members of the same race, the human race; and we need to take responsibility for both the well-being of our sisters and brothers and that of our planet. We’ve got our work cut out for us; so, onwards, all, to Paris!

Bio of Felicity Figueroa

Born in London, England, Felicity Figueroa grew up in LA County. After graduating from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, with a degree in anthropology, she moved to Mexico City, where she spent the next twelve years. She has lived in Orange County since 1991 with her husband, Eduardo; they have two grown sons. Felicity is involved with a number of local progressive and social justice organizations including Women For: Orange County, the Orange County Equality Coalition, Americans United for Separation of Church and State – OC, the Newport-Mesa-Irvine Interfaith Council, Friends of OC Detainees and the Irvine United Congregational Church Advocates for Peace and Justice. She believes that direct person-to-person interaction is the only way to truly change hearts and minds and thus enable distinct communities to work together to tackle the most pressing issues of our time.