Climate Change And Mexico Essay

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Climate Change And Mexico

The Effect of Increased Greenhouse Gasses on Mexico and it's Effort to Reduce
Environmental DamageIntroductionFor over a hundred years, scientists have been carefully
gathering and verifying data on the earth's temperature. The latest data reveals some
striking trends:All 10 of the warmest years on record have occurred in the last 15 years
The 1990's have already been warmer than the 1980's- the warmest decade on record The
global average surface temperature has risen 0.5 degrees (site source)For the first time
ever, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the authoritative international body
charged with studying this issue, concluded that the observed increase in global average
temperature over the last century "is unlikely to be entirely natural in origin" and that
"the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global
climate."The Earth's climate is the result of extremely complex interactions among the
atmosphere, the oceans, the land masses, and living organisms, which are all warmed daily
by the sun's enormous energy. This heat would radiate back into space if not for the
atmosphere, which relies on a delicate balance of heat-trapping gases, including water
vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane, to act as a natural "greenhouse,"
keeping in just the right amount of the sun's energy to support life.For the past 150
years, though, the atmospheric concentrations of these gases, particularly carbon dioxide.
Have been rising. As a result, more heat is being trapped than previously, which in turn
is causing the global temperature to rise. Climate scientists have linked the increased
levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere to human activities, in particular the
burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas for heating and electricity; gasoline
for transportation) deforestation, cattle ranching, and rice farming. Scientists still
cannot predict the exact impact on the earth's climate of these rising levels of
heat-trapping gases over the next century. But there is striking agreement among most
climate scientists about what is likely to occur. Increasingly sophisticated climate
models suggest that the planet will warm over the next century at a more rapid rate than
ever before recorded. The current best estimate from the Intergovernmental Panel is that
if carbon dioxide concentrations double over preindustrial levels, global average surface
temperatures will rise between 1.8 degrees and 6.3 degrees F. According to the Panel's
range of possible scenarios, an atmospheric doubling of carbon dioxide could occur as
early as 2050. Future impacts worldwide from this kind of warming will most likely
include: damage to human health, severe stress on forests, wetlands, and other natural
habitats, dislocation of agriculture and commerce, expansion of the earth's deserts,
melting of the polar ice caps and consequent rise in the sea level, and more extreme
weather events [on-line] (Available: warming)This paper will discuss
some impacts of global climate change on Mexico, what action Mexico is taking toward
sustainable development (ie. Population conferences, earth summits, etc.), how Mexico is
treating it's environment presently, and background information of Mexico will be
presented. MexicoMost of Mexico is an immense, elevated plateau, flanked by mountain
ranges that fall sharply off to narrow coastal plains in the west and east. The two
mountain chains, the Sierra Madre Occidental to the west and the Sierra Madre Oriental in
the east, meet in a region called La Junta in the southeast. At La Junta the two ranges
form the Sierra Madre del Sur, a maze of volcanic mountains containing the highest peaks
in Mexico. The Sierra Madre Del Sur leads into the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which lies
between the Bay of Campeche and the Gulf of Tecuantepec. The prominent topographical
feature of the country is the central plateau, a continuation of the plains of the
southwestern U.S. Comprising more that half the total area of Mexico, the plateau slopes
downward from the west to the east and from the south, where the elevation varies from
about 1830 to 2440 m above sea level, to the north with an elevation of about 1070 to 1220
m. Two large valleys form notable depressions in the plateau: the Bolson de Mapimi in the
north and the Valley of Mexico, or Anahuac, in central Mexico (Encyclopedia Brittanica, CD
1997).Mexico has few major rivers, and most are not navigable. The longest river is the
Rio Grande, which extends along the Mexican-U.S. border. Other important rivers include
the Panuco, Grijalva, and Usumacinta in the south and the Conchos in the north. Mexico has
few good harbors. Tampico, Varacruz Llave, and Coatzacoalcos (Puerto Mexico) are major
Gulf of Mexico ports. Pacific ports include Acapulco de Juarez, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, and
Salina Cruz. Lake Chapala, in the west, is the largest inland body of water. The Valley of
Mexico cantains several shallow lakes (Encyclopedia Brittanica, CD 1997).Mexico is
besected by the Tropic of Cancer; therefore, the southern half is included in the Torrid
Zone. In general, climate varies with altitude. The tierra caliente (hot land) includes
the low coastal plains, extending from sea level to about 914 m. Weather is extremely
humid, with temperatures varying from 15.6< to 21.1< C. The tierra fria (cold land)
exstends from about 1830 to 2745 m. The average temperature range is 15 to 17.2 C
(Encyclopedia Brittanica, CD 1997).The rainy season lasts from May to October. Although
sections of southern Mexico recieve from about 990 to 3000 mm of rain a year, most of
Mexico lacks adequate rainfall. Rainfall averages less than 635 mm in the tierra fria, and
about 254 mm in the semiarid north.The mineral resources of Mexico are extremely rich and
varied. Almost every known mineral is found, including coal, iron ore, phosphates,
uranium, silver, gold, copper, lead, and zinc. Proveen petroleum and natural-gas reserves
are enormous, with some of the world's largest deposits located offshore, in the Bay of
Campeche. Forests and woodland, which cover about 23 percent of the land, contain such
valuable woods as mahogany, ebony, walnut, and rosewood. About 13 percent of the land is
suitable for agriculture, but less than 10 percent receives enough rainfall for raising
crops without irrigation (Encyclopedia Brittanica, CD 1997).The Mexican population is
composed of three main groups: the people of Spanish descent, the Indians, and the people
of mixed Spanish and Indian ancestry, or mestizos. Of these groups, the mestizos are by
far the largest, constituting about 60 percent of the population. The Indians total about
30 percent. The society is semi-industrialized. The population of Mexico at the 1990
census was 81,140,922. The estimated population density is 1990 was about 41 persons per
sq km. About 73 percent of Mexicans lived in urban areas, with a good majority of them in
Mexico city alone (Encyclopedia Brittanica, CD 1997).The Republic of Mexico covers a total
of 1.97 million sq. Km. As one of the world's most strategically positioned countries,
Mexico shares it's entire 3,218 km northern border with the United States, and in the
southeast, it borders Guatemala and Belize along 1,126.3 km. On one coastline, Mexico
faces the fast-growing markets of the Pacific Rim; on the other, Europe. The country's
topography offers the international investor a wide range of locations. It is the
fourteenth largest country in the world and the fifth largest in the Americas. Mexico
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