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Environmental Issues of Latin America

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1 Environmental Issues of Latin America
SS6G2 The student will discuss environmental issues in Latin America. a. Explain the major environmental concerns of Latin America regarding the issues of air pollution in Mexico City, Mexico, the destruction of the rain forest in Brazil, and oil-related pollution in Venezuela.

2 Famous for its size, its history, and the warmth of its people, Mexico City is also infamous for its air pollution

3 In 1992, the United Nations described the city's air as the most polluted on the planet. Six years later, that air earned Mexico the reputation of "the most dangerous city in the world for children."

4 This is a reputation Mexico has been working hard to improve
This is a reputation Mexico has been working hard to improve. But despite more than a decade of stringent pollution-control measures, a dull haze hangs over the city most days, obscuring the stunning snow-capped mountains that frame the city and endangering the health of its inhabitants.

5 Many factors have contributed to this situation: industrial growth, a population boom (from 3 million in 1950 to some 20 million today), and the proliferation of vehicles. More than 3.5 million vehicles -- 30% of them more than 20 years old -- now ply the city streets.

6 Geography conspires with human activity to produce a poisonous scenario. Located in the crater of an extinct volcano, Mexico City is about 2,240 metres above sea level. The lower atmospheric oxygen levels at this altitude cause incomplete fuel combustion in engines and higher emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds. Intense sunlight turns these noxious gases into higher than normal smog levels. In turn, the smog prevents the sun from heating the atmosphere enough to penetrate the inversion layer that blankets the city.

7 For More Information on Mexico City

8 Destruction of the Rainforest in Brazil

9 Deforestation in Brazil
: This image of the southern Amazon uses satellite data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite collected in 2000 and 2001 to classify the terrain into three separate land surface categories: forest (red), herbaceous (non-woody) vegetation like grasses (green), and bare ground (blue). The Amazon's numerous rivers appear white.

10 What is deforestation? In many tropical countries, the majority of deforestation results from the actions of poor subsistence cultivators. However, in Brazil only about one-third of recent deforestation can be linked to "shifted" cultivators. A large portion of deforestation in Brazil can be attributed to land clearing for pastureland by commercial and speculative interests.

11 For what are pastures used?
Cattle ranching is the leading cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. This has been the case since at least the 1970s: government figures attributed 38 percent of deforestation from to large-scale cattle ranching. However, today the situation may be even worse. According to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), "between 1990 and 2001 the percentage of Europe's processed meat imports that came from Brazil rose from 40 to 74 percent" and by 2003 "for the first time ever, the growth in Brazilian cattle production—80 percent of which was in the Amazon—was largely export driven." Beef…it’s whats for dinner.

12 Destruction of the rain forest in Brazil
Go to the above website to learn about the Amazon Rainforest Information can also be found in the Green book on pages

13 Oil-related pollution in Venezuela
Among the environmental concerns in Venezuela is the effect of pesticides and other agrochemicals on the health of peasant women.  A study by the Central University of Venezuela’s Ivonne Alvarado found that in 43% of cases, samples of mother’s milk were found to contain organochlorine insecticides.  Cases of respiratory congestion and rashes are frequently reported among poor women and children. 

14 The Venezuelan government is being accused of an oil spill cover up, downplaying the extent of the damage to the Venezuelan coastline after an oil spill on March 1, 1997.  The Venezuelan environmental organization FORJA is accusing the Environment Ministry of admitting to only 9000 of nearly 60,000 barrels of crude oil that leaked from a Greek tanker accident in Lake Maracaibo and the Gulf of Venezuela.  Orinoco Oilwatch says the accident caused “extensive pollution” and “serious damage” to the sensitive ecosystems along the coast. 


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