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Transcript of Mexico City
Rubbish and Water Pollution
Water Pollution Effects
Hoy No Circula
Valley of Mexico (capital city)
1554 sq. km
8 851 080 (2010), 99.5% living in urban areas and 0.5% in rural areas
9 million (7 million Mexicans, 2 million foreigners)
Mexican Spanish, indigenous languages spoken as well (Nahuatl, Otomi, Mixteco etc.)
US $411 billion (2012)
subtropical highland climate due to its high elevation. The lower region of the valley receives less rainfall than the upper regions because the rain always stays in the same place, at the top of the valley.
estimated at more than 90% (highest literacy rate in country)
Number of factories:
Situated at an altitude of 2133 metres, Mexico City sits on a giant plateau surrounded by mountains, resembling a bowl. The pollution caused by traffic and industrial factories is captured in the 'bowl' by thermal inversion and therefore cannot escape, hence polluting the city's air.
Mexico City's air pollution sent over one million inhabitants to hospital in 1999 alone. Acting as a major 'wake-up call' for those in charge of the city, in a desperate attempt to solve the problem, the city planted ten million trees, forced petrol stations to sell unleaded fuel and install vapor capture systems and introduced alternative fuels for government vehicles, however air pollution continues to remain one of the most daunting environmental issues that Mexico City is faced with. With over 3 million vehicles on the road every day, as well as many small factories, continual deforestation issues and fires, it isn't hard to see where the problem originates from.
Air pollution is definitely one of Mexico City's greatest problems, and this can be see by the sheer number of citizens that have consequently had to go to hospital. As well as this, the fact that the government are mainly focusing on clearing up the air pollution and bringing in schemes revolving around this show that this is what most concerns them.
Strategies for air pollution
Over the years, the city has tried drastically to clear the air from all the pollution that clusters in the city. To solve these problems, they have introduced the following environmental programs, all of which fall under their joint environmental scheme with the Metropolitan Environment Commission named ProAire:
Hoy No Circula
The city have also made significant changes such as:
Reducing sulphur in fuels and completely removing lead in gasoline
Mandatory vehicle inspections and MOTs bi-yearly
Some recently suggested ideas have been to:
Blowing up surrounded hills to increase air circulation
Install large fans to blow smoke out of the valley
Create thousands of rooftop gardens throughout the city
As well as air pollution, rubbish and water are also critical problems. The city has 17 000 sanitation workers and more than 2000 rubbish trucks collecting approximately 11 850 tons of waste per day. The city also has some of the world's highest rates of water consumption in the world, therefore causing Mexico City to suffer from chronic water shortages.
On a daily basis, 35 000 litres of water per second are needed to supply its inhabitants. Around 30% of the city's total drinking water is imported from a location some 127 kilometres away and later pumped 1000 metres uphill before being used in the city, while about 67% of the city's water comes from underground sources, as the city has about 588 water wells currently in operation. Due to the huge amounts of water being extracted from beneath the city, the water table is sinking as the aquifers beneath the city are being emptied. If this continues, a huge water crisis will be inevitable . As well as this, the city's drainage system is antiquated and is therefore collapsing, which in turn is leading to seasonal flooding and overflowing drains during the rainy season, meaning for a few months every year, the water system is polluted by sewage.
increasing air temperature with increasing altitude, normally reversed
the level below the ground at which the Earth is saturated with water
a bed of permeable rock that can contain or transmit/allow groundwater to pass through
a type of plan that focuses on predicted trends related to the demand of a product or service
However this is not all the fault of the citizens. Due to geographical restrictions and an unfortunate location, there is, to a certain degree, nothing that Mexico City can do to completely improve the quality of its air.
Due to its location, the city has a low atmospheric pressure and therefore when fuel combustion in vehicles occurs, it is not able to fully combust, emitting carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals. Due to the strong climatic sunlight and heat, the carbon monoxide is then transformed into smog, covering the city.
Metrobús was an initiative founded by the mayor of Mexico City in collaboration with EMBARQ and CTS-Mexico. Together they worked to develop an eco friendly bus that ran through the centre of the city.
Having started serving in 2005, the system transports 315 000 passengers a day, and new mayor Marcelo Ebrard is planning to expand the network to include another 9 lines.
Every year, it is estimated that Metrobús removes:
690 tons of nitrogen oxide
2.8 tons of fine particulate matter
144 tons of hydrocarbons
80 000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions
This image shows how the majority of citizens riding on the Metrobús are considered by the Mexican population to be middle class, earning between US $4501 and $15 000. Unfortunately the graph does not tell us whether this data is the family's yearly or monthly income.
ECOBICIs are the name given to bicycles found around Mexico City that are open to the public. These were developed in 2010 as an attempt to reduce the amount of traffic congestion found around the metropolitan area of the city, as well as to help the environment and the city's disastrous air pollution. They were built in the hope of creating a sustainable future and becoming a benchmark and model to other nations around the world.
Since, the program has grown by 200%, with over 3600 bikes and 275 'cicloestaciones' throughout the city, with an estimated growth of 70% in the future.
According to the ECOBICI website*, 'the system acts as an effective complement to the public transport, favours the alternatives of mobility in an environmentally friendly way, in addition to contributing to a sustainable development of cities and seeking a new lifestyle, which promotes a culture of ethics, respect, ecology and welfare.'
*translated from Spanish
Hoy No Circula is a new found Law in Mexico City, as well as New Mexico in the US, stating that only certain cars are allowed to drive on the road on each day of the week. This helps the clustered city stop unnecessary cars from driving to help the environment. This plan encourages citizens of the city to opt for public transport instead of driving everywhere, or walking to short distance areas. The way in which you know not to drive on a certain day is all down to your license plate. The table that you are given to show this, is so:
In Mexico City, the communities are being forced to save water and use as little as they can due to the increase in population. Not only has this caused problems for the local farming industries as water is a vital part of the growth of their crops which in turn provides a source of income for them, but also the people who live in this area are at great risk of dehydration, death and illness from unsanitary water, or worse, no water at all. Mexico City is at great risk of food shortages due to the lack of water.
More water needs to be used for household practices and health reasons, such as cleaning, cooking and personal hygiene. The sanitised water is clearly there for drinking, as no human can live without water for more than three days. The strategies that are being put into place are being taken care of by the government of Mexico City. Communities are being forced to use substitute strategies such as demand management and rural-urban transfers.
Plan Verde is a programme designed by Mexico's Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources, encouraging Mexico City's residents to interact with their environment by taking into account how their use of natural resources and behavioural changes in society effect the city's environment.
Plan Verde was also put into place to enable communication between the government and citizens, informing citizens of upcoming governmental strategies regarding 'oil conservation, housing and public space, water, mobility, air, solid waste, and energy and climate change'. Through their implementation of climate policies and new systems with the aspiration of transforming the polluted city into an ecological haven, the government hope to turn Mexico City into an exemplar city for the rest of the world.
Plan Verde is attempting to provide solutions for both water and rubbish pollution, and air pollution.
With high immigration and birth rates during the 20th century, Mexico City's population grew to 8 million, of which over 60% are currently considered to be 'poor' or 'moderately poor'. Initially, overcrowded one or two roomed rented tenements, called 'vecindades', provided accommodation for the poor. With intensive industrialisation and urbanisation after 1940, suburban located 'colonias populares' emerged as the leading lower-middle and low-income housing preference. A World Bank study from 1996 showed that 1/4 of Mexicans recieved under U.S $2 per day and that 17$ of Mexicans earned less than U.S $1 a day, classified as 'extreme poverty'.
With people choosing to live in the colonias, the government were unable to stop the cycle of unsanitary water being used around the city, or the major problem of air pollution as those living here preferred to spend their money on cars and petrol as opposed to housing.
Mexico has huge drug cartel problems, however Mexico City is mainly located in unclaimed territory, meaning no particular drug cartel runs the area. It was previously considered to be a 'bubble of peace and security'.
Since the former President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico's drug leaders seven years ago, reporters in the Mexican provinces have adapted to the new rules, meaning no detailed reports on cartel activity, no mention of top level drug leaders and no serious investigations into murders. In hundreds of towns and cities across Mexico, journalists can do very little other than repeat official press releases. For those who don't obey, threats, kidnappings, beatings and murder are often on the cards.
However, up until recently, Mexico City's journalists had been excluded from the cartel threats that had a created a 'self-imposed censorship on the rest of the country'. Yet now one of Mexico's strongest cartels, the Familia Michoacana have moved into Ciudad Nezahuacoyotl on the edge of Mexico City and halted the press.
Since, in 2011 alone, there were 580 drug cartel related deaths in Mexico City. This is a huge issue as Mexico City is the main city in Mexico, supposedly demonstrating the way forward for other Mexican towns and cities, and where all financial and governmental decisions are made here. With drug cartel related murders happening so frequently, this will begin to give off a negative image of the city, something the Mexican politicians do not want.
Annual car growth is over 5%, with some people travelling a 6 hour round trip to get to work and back home. Director-general of the Centre for Sustainable Transport, Adriana Lobo says there is no way Mexico City is going to be able to provide the correct and sufficient infrastructure to accommodate the current vehicular trends.
However President Enrique Pena Nieto announced that he intends to spend 4 trillion pesos (US $300 billion) on improving the country's infrastructure as a whole, including motorways (of which 15 are toll roads, 29 are freeways, and 16 are rural roads), 3 train lines, 7 ports and airports, and telecommunications infrastructure.
The bottom is mostly composed of dry grassland, whilst the upper is mountainous region filled with pine and oak trees. Nearby are the Ajusco mountains and the Popocatépetl volcano.