The industrial revolution began in the late 1700s in the United Kingdom and it was the beginning of a change that would affect the entire world and that would help further develop globalization. The mechanization of manufacturing processes made production faster, cheaper and easier, making it a necessary advantage to develop. Latin America’s industrialization mainly took place during the 20th century, and it is still ongoing, however, the effects have not always been positive.
Non-industrialized countries mainly focused on commodity production, which would later be exported and used in the production of different goods. After a more liberal economy was instituted, additional Latin American countries made reforms to be internationally competitive, as a result the industrial sector was further developed.
According to a study carried out by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, after the reforms made by Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, there was a correlation in the increase in both GDP and environmental pollution. This data begged the question, what is more beneficial in the construction of a country?
As previously stated, industrialization is advantageous in building an internationally competitive nation and as such, it is heavily encouraged. However, most cases primarily focus on an inconsiderate expansion, as though resources were unlimited. Oil is the most valuable asset nowadays and yet it is also a finite asset. According to the Clean Air Institute:
Mexico City has long been plagued by smog but according to the report, Monterrey is the city with the highest levels of Particle Pollution (PM10) in all of Latin America. The concentration of PM10 per cubic meter is 85.9 micrograms in Monterrey; the European Union limits member countries to maintaining levels of under 40 micrograms per cubic meter. Guadalajara’s pollution is also toxic (70.1 mcg/m3) and Mexico City’s looks almost clean by comparison (57.0 mcg/m3).
Monterrey is heavily industrialized, from the 1950s it started developing as such, but the consequences have obviously not been addressed. In Mexico alone there are approximately 14,000 deaths each year because of air pollution, to which cars also contribute, but it is no coincidence that the states that are more contaminated are also those that are more industrialized.
Globally, there appears to be a stronger drive of monetary ambition that overlooks the ecological consequences. Although industrialization is undeniably necessary, people seem to ignore that if there is no sustainable development, then there can be no economical growth in the long term. 14,000 people is no small number and if effective measures to stop pollution levels from increasing are not taken, there might be no bright and ambitious future to strive to.
In the case of Mexico, I believe institutions on Ecological affairs should be created in order to make viable and real solutions to a problem that affects all of the society within the country. Latin America is generally a few steps behind many countries, however, that does not mean that the standards should be lowered, especially when this means endangering people’s lives, and in this matter pollution should be no exception. In the end, what is the point of endless growth if it is unsustainable in any aspect? It is not worth it, in my opinion, because the fact of the matter is resources are finite, and because our survival depends on them and the environmental conditions. Thus we cannot afford to keep on growing uncontrollably.
Andrea K. Romero