by Emily Larsen
SALEM, N.H. — Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said climate change is a reason so many Central American migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“These storms, these floods, the historic wildfires that we saw in California, the droughts through which our farmers in Texas attempt to persist to grow the food and the fiber that feeds and clothes not just this country but the world, are going to be exponentially worse going forward,” O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman who represented El Paso, said at a campaign stop Thursday in Salem, N.H. “There were 400,000 apprehensions at our border with Mexico last year. As you know, many of them were kids – kids who, if they were lucky, showed up with their parents,” he said. “But increasingly, we are finding that those who are arriving are farmers from Honduras who are trying to plant what used to grow but does not any longer because they, too, are in historic droughts and cannot feed themselves.
“If you think 400,000 is bad, wait until some countries in the Western Hemisphere can no longer support human life, because that is the direction we are headed,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke made the comments while speaking to a group of about a group of about 100 people at the home of James Smith, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia under President Barack Obama.
The 2020 hopeful released a plan last week to address climate change, including $5 trillion in investments in “infrastructure, innovation and our people and communities.” The plan aims for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
O’Rourke also referenced the threat of the Chinese economy when discussing ideas to address climate change. “The technologies that will drive this world will be invented by a country on this planet. I would much rather it be the United States than be China,” he said.