Category Archives: Environment

New species of parrot found in Yucatan

Parrot new speciesSmithsonian – There are about 30 species of vibrantly colored Amazon parrots that soar through the skies of Mexico, the Caribbean and South America. But a new fluffy family member may soon be added to the Amazona genus. A team of researchers believes they have discovered a never-before-seen species of the parrot on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

The beauty and power of Mexico’s volcanoes

NYT – The beauty of Mexico’s volcanoes can be matched by their power. Whether topped by snow or spewing towers of ash and smoke, they are a natural draw for would-be nature photographers. But to Hector Guerrero they are more than subjects for pretty pictures. The 33-year-old photographer sees them as embodying the environmental and social challenges facing his country.

Mexico City’s last living river

Foreign Policy -The most populous city in North America has only one living river not confined to underground pipes: the fragile Río Magdalena. The forest ecosystem that nurtures it is the same one that supports the majority of Mexico City’s water sources. Though the Magdalena feeds into the water grid, it turns from clear to sludgy shortly after it makes contact with the periphery of the city. The river becomes a “disgusting sewer,” says photographer Luc Forsyth, as soon as it hits the urban sprawl.

Slim firm eyes electric taxis to battle pollution

Fox News – Giant Motors, an automaker partially owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, is working on a prototype electric taxi to replace the gas-guzzling cabs polluting Mexico City’s air. Giant has partnered with electric vehicle maker Moldex, a unit of Mexican breadmaker Grupo Bimbo, and four Mexican universities to produce the environmentally friendly car that will eventually replace part of Mexico City’s more than 130,000 registered cabs, said Elias Massri, chief executive of Giant Motors Latinoamerica.

Mexico worries new wall will worsen flooding

NPR – As the White House pushes Congress to fund President Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, a new wrinkle has emerged that could stymie parts of the massive project. Mexican engineers believe construction of the border barrier may violate a 47-year-old treaty governing the shared waters of the Rio Grande. If Mexico protests, the fate of the wall could end up in an international court.

New species of giant spider found in Baja cave

CBS – There’s a new spider in town: specifically, a large, cave-dwelling one found in the mountains of Baja California Sur, Mexico. The spider was first spotted on a research expedition back in 2013 in La Paz, Baja California. It took four years, but scientists have formally confirmed that this spider is not only a new species, but belongs to a genus never seen before. The discovery was published in the March issue of the journal Zootaxa.

Mexico to put endangered vaquitas in refuge

Phys Org – In a bid to save the world’s smallest species of porpoise from extinction, the Mexican government announced plans to place some of them in a temporary refuge. The environment ministry said the “ambitious emergency plan” to save the vaquita marina porpoise would be carried out with help from international conservation groups. However, the plan is controversial with conservationists, some of whom say the vaquita is not an animal that can thrive in captivity.

Environmental activists fear for their lives

Newsweek – Latin America is now the most dangerous place in the world for environmental activists, according to a 2016 report by Article 19, a British human rights group. More than 122 activists were killed in 2015, one of the deadliest years on record, according to the most recent study from Global Witness, another nongovernmental organization. Mexico has emerged as one of the most perilous countries in the region.

18-year-old killed by crocodile in Chiapas swamp

AP – Environmental authorities are searching for a 10-foot (3-meter) crocodile that killed and apparently ate a man in Chiapas. The federal Environment Department said when the victim and three friends went to the La Encrucijada reserve to fish, an 18-year-old was carried off by the reptile, but his companions escaped.

Fight for endangered vaquita gets violent

AP – A gang of dozens of fishermen overturned inspectors’ trucks, burned or destroyed 15 vehicles and patrol boats, and beat three inspectors from the office for environmental protection in a town on Mexico’s Gulf of California. The fishermen were angered by Mexico’s attempt to save the vaquita porpoise by banning some types of net fishing in the Gulf –also known as the Sea of Cortez — where only about 30 of the elusive animals are believed to survive.

There will be few monarch butterflies this year

USAToday – One of the sure signs of spring — monarch butterflies — might be harder to find this year. After a significant rise last year, the number of monarch butterflies at winter breeding grounds in Mexico is down once again, according to butterfly tracker Craig Wilson, a senior research associate at Texas A&M University.

Plan to reduce air pollution chokes in Mexico City

Banning cars on Saturdays in Mexico city hasn't reduced air pollutants according to a new study.
Banning cars on Saturdays in Mexico city hasn’t reduced air pollutants according to a new study.

Science Daily

Decades ago Mexico City’s air pollution was so poor, birds would fall out of the sky — dead. Locals said living there was like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, according to one report. In response, Mexico City took several steps to try to improve air quality including restricting driving one or two days during the weekdays. The program has had negligible results.

In 2008, the city added driving restrictions on Saturdays in hopes of moving the needle but according to new research by Lucas W. Davis, an associate professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, extending the program one more day also isn’t working.

“Saturday driving restrictions are a flawed policy. It’s a big hassle for people and does not improve air quality,” says Davis, who is also the faculty director at the Energy Institute at Haas.

The study, “Saturday Driving Restrictions Fail to Improve Air Quality in Mexico City,” published in Scientific Reports, is the first to examine the effects of restricted driving on Saturdays. It compares pollution levels of eight major pollutants before and after the program went into effect. Having fewer motorists on the road on Saturdays led to close to zero impact. Proponents of the Saturday program had estimated vehicle emissions would be reduced by 15% or more.

Mexico City has the worst air quality in the Western Hemisphere with particulate levels that are three to four times higher than in New York, Los Angeles, São Paulo, or Buenos Aires, the paper states.

Indigenous environmental activist murdered

TeleSur – Isidro Baldenegro Lopez, an Indigenous environmental activist who fought against deforestation in Mexico, was assassinated last weekend. Baldenegro, the 2005 recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize for North America, was found dead outside a relative’s house in Chihuahua. Witnesses claim the murder suspects are linked with known assassins of other Indigenous environmental activists in the region.

Mexico City Uber drivers are recording air pollution

CNBC – Uber Mexico has partnered with U.K.-based Drayson Technologies to create what is being described as “hyper-local air pollution information” for Mexico City.  Uber drivers’ cars have been provided with a connected, smart air pollution sensor designed by Drayson Technologies. The CleanSpace Tag, as it’s known, will enable Uber drivers to document air quality levels inside and outside of their vehicles.

Deforestation for avocados higher than thought

Fox News – Authorities in Mexico say deforestation caused by the expansion of avocado orchards is much higher than previously thought. The attorney general’s office for environmental protection says that almost 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares) of forest land are converted to agricultural uses each year in the western state of Michoacan, the world’s top producer of the fruit.

7 Sawmills in Monarch preserve are shut down

Atlas Obscura – The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and has been a protected site in Mexico since 1980. But ever since then—and likely before—the forest has remained threatened by illegal logging. On Tuesday, Mexican authorities announced steps towards fighting that threat, in the form of the closure of seven sawmills that had been operating illegally in the reserve.