Water pollution, refineries and oil spills in the Caribbean Sea

During the Industrial Revolution, Europe suffered great changes .The economic system based on agricultural and craft activities transformed into one based upon manufacturing machines in factories. This revolution altered the social life in Europe and the World. The change was evident in the first part of XIX Century. In Europe, lifestyles changed greatly. At the beginning, people saw the revolution as progress. Its position was verified with a movement called “impressionism” where fascinating artists began to paint different portraits or pictures, some of them put a machine as a representation of progress in the painting’s background. After which, their routine changed and their stress levels rose. 

As the Industrial Revolution continued, the exploitation of natural resources intensified, as it sought to take advantage, to the extent that resource utilisation is at today. The exploitation of these natural resources has been abusive, and it has endangered their existence. These reasons created the need to implement a program to stop this abuse, a program based on sustainable development.

Based on these needs, the United Nations (UN) created a concept of sustainable development. The UN described it as: “A development to satisfy current needs, securing natural resources without danger and keeping them for future generations to attend to their own needs”


The problem is that this exploitation of natural resources caused the current situation: exploitation of natural resources has caused the present pollution situation that extends to water and air contamination. Air pollution has been produced by a variety of methods (factories, machines, steamboats, to mention some of them).

The majority of water bodies (lakes, rivers, oceans, seas) are being damaged by pollution. The main contributors to pollution are tourism, nuclear containers and big cities that have diverted rivers, exploited underground reservoirs, and industrial waste.

I believe that the oceans, specifically the Caribbean Sea, have been most affected by pollution. This is because they are the most used routes to transport products from other continents, like Europe. These oceans are very important for Latin American nations. From them, the population is able to obtain fish, one of the most important food resources in several Latin American countries, and in my opinion, oil spills have made the water heavily polluted, which stops the ability to fish. Taking away the fisherman’s economy, or sometimes affecting healthy populations is something that is not in our hands. These consequences come from the practices of oil refineries, and container ships that transport the world’s goods in today’s economy. 


The next step

Does industrialization mean progress or does it mean threat? Well, it depends on the side of the coin you see because after the first process of industrialization in Europe, the world suffered many diverse changes. It started in Great Britain with the invention of different artifacts together with the development of technological advances and new processes that enhanced mass production; issues that fostered the spread of capitalism in the form of imperialism across the globe. The idea that was developed during this process, together with some of the ideas of the enlightenment, was that of progress, conjointly with the growth of economical and political power. Following the aforementioned statement, the ecological damages were not perceived to have a marked impact at the time, but we have as an example the exponential growth of the population of Europe and the urbanization that, although it made certain nations centralized, this centralization expanded and reached the villages and thus the environmental catastrophes reached new levels. For example, air pollution increased due to the constant factory production, and with that different gases were emitted to the environment, killing lots of species due to the dense layer of pollutants and increasing deaths due to respiratory issues. As well, water pollution was a common issue during that time because the disposal of materials lacked knowledge of environment consequences, urbanization polluted or even dried some lakes and rivers, and since there was not an established drainage system, the people used these lakes to wash themselves and as a result, cholera cases escalated quickly due to the missuses of water. Finally, sound pollution started due to the constant factory turmoil and with that some workers lost their hearing.


Industry represents a key element in the development of Mexico, such that, today it represents 80% of the GDP and the most recent example is that of the energetic reform. PEMEX is the petroleum corporation monopolized by the Mexican government after the president Lázaro Cárdenas took over the oil of Mexican territory. The current president has proposed an initiative that says that private enterprises are going to support Mexico with different types of advanced technology and certain machinery to establish the bases of extraction in ultra deep water. These private companies would give the petroleum to the government, and then the government would sell it back to them. This industrialization carries political and economical benefits but also disadvantages such as the turmoil related to the leftist and rightist parties together with the argument of the violation of Mexican sovereignty. It does also, however, carry some type of legitimization for the current presidency, this means that the president, by the promotion and the acceptation of this reform, is going to legitimize his government that has been marked as corrupt, conservative, and illegal due to the past elections. The way in which he is trying to legitimize the government is through improved performance regarding efficiency, since the government´s plan is to decrease the prices of oil and in some way show that his government is working. The expected economic benefits are the decrease of prices of natural gas and gasoline, but now there are complications due to corruption inside of PEMEX and its syndicate. Now is it a threat or a benefit? Economically, it is a benefit but we cannot know in the case of the environmental issues because the management of the enterprise may carry oil spills that represent a major threat to the environment. In fact the current administration of PEMEX has already had certain oil spills in Coatzacoalcos and other parts of Veracruz that have already left hundreds and even thousands of families without any type of sustenance due to their dependence on fishing.  One of the enterprises that wants to take over the new oil industry in Mexico is British Petroleum that has already a black history in the Gulf of Mexico due to its incorrect management. The environmental damages of those spills are still present today in the Gulf of Mexico and the greatest issue that we face with this new industrial wave is that the Mexican government does not have the sufficient power to face any type of potential spill, which would worsen an environmental situation that is still not completely under control. In cases similar to the one of British Petroleum, Exxon and other oil companies have caused irreparable damages to the population, including deaths but also the annihilation of their only way to get an income and henceforth, their future. 


By Guillermo Tamayo Romero

Industrial development in Latin America and its consequences

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


Industrialization in Mexico

Industrialisation began in Mexico with President Porfirio Diaz in 1880. Firstly, he established communication channels for doing business, to exploit mines and banks were founded. In that period, Mexico received much foreign investment due to our country’s natural resources. This interest came especially from the United States, France, England and Germany. It helped improve the economy and the employment opportunities began to increase.

The invention of the telegraph, telephone and railroad were great tools for the communication and the growth of business. We started to have electricity, the ability to use the internal combustion engine, whilst many cars were imported to Mexico.

Edward L. Doheny, an American and Weetman D. from England, were the first to find oil and export it. Mexico became the biggest mining economy in the world, producing silver and metals, whilst fuel output increased.

After the Wall Street crisis of 1929, regulation began on the export of goods. This came about at the end of the government of Lazaro Cárdenas. In 1937 oil was first expropriated, and this also took place during the Cárdenas government. The exploitation of this natural resource helped Mexico increase its economic wealth by a great amount.

In the world in general, due to the misuse of natural resources, exploitation, deforestation and environmental abuse, the world is becoming ever more polluted and we are at risk of depleting our resources. Particularly in Mexico, the nuclear power industry produces radioactive waste, industry pollutes the atmosphere with chlorine water, and agribusinesses pollute soil and water with pesticides and fertilizers.

Despite the pollution and its environmental consequences in Mexico, we are still not a fully developed country. Why? Because we are a third world country and we do not have the necessary tools to use a resource such as oil appropriately to achieve economic improvements in the country.

ImageRegarding Energy Reform, it is also a consequence of industrialization, every day there are a greater number of technologies available, however we are not trained to use them or do not have them available in our country yet.

We should focus more as a country on getting the infrastructure that we need (specifically to use our oil) with the aim of increasing the efficiency of the companies and factories that already exist (and to compete more ably with foreign countries) to improve the economy. Industrialisation has consequences on the environment, the economy of the country and generally on the daily lives of people not only in Mexico but throughout the entire world.


Mexico PollutionWater and air pollution has always existed, but since the industrial revolution in England in the late seventeenth century it became a critical issue affecting the health and quality of life of many citizens, which not only affected England, but spread worldwide to America in the late nineteenth century.

During the decade of the sixties in Mexico the water and air pollution led to a poor quality of life, due to the very bad quality of air in the Valley of Mexico, and the diminishing quantity of aquifers due to pollution of rivers. The underground reserves of aquifers have been utilized and the Valley of Mexico has been sinking up to 30 centimeters per year due to the pollution coming from factories, which results in pollutants being dispersed in the seas and rivers, and also this has caused rivers to be dried out.

The air pollution in Mexico is mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal. The growth of cities, which has brought an increase of cars and intense industrial activities, has also led to water pollution due to chemical and petroleum waste in rivers and seas, agricultural and livestock waste and domestic waste. These cause sewage, which most frequently affects rivers, whilst mismanagement in wastewater treatment has caused a decrease in water availability in Mexico, placing Mexico in eighty-first place in water availability in the world.

In my opinion Mexico has been affected by unregulated industries and government mismanagement, due to the lack of a plan of action. I mean to say that pollutant emissions generated by factories were not controlled until the contamination became a problem and that the residual waste system, which is poorly planned, has contaminated most of the springs and rivers that supplied both towns as well as cities.

For example, in 1961 in the state of Hidalgo, specifically the village of Huejutla Hidalgo, the main river called el río Tecoluco disappeared. This was because the government gradually turned the river into a wastewater channel, a very sad fact because it was the main river serving the community.

Regarding the air pollution issue, the writer Alfonso Reyes wrote “traveler, you’ve come to the Air Is Clear” referring to the time when Cortes arrived to Tenochtitlan. Until about 50 years ago, air quality in Mexico was good, but the increased use of automobiles and industries has decreased the air quality so much so that there are days when it seems that there is fog in the city, although actually it is pollution. Due to this and the many environmental contingencies, the government has implemented different means of ecological transportation for the masses of the population. This has the purpose of reducing the pollutants emitted to the atmosphere. For example, the Mexico City metro carries approximately 5 million users each day, the metrobus system carries around 450,000 users daily, whilst more recently the use of bicycles in the Federal District has been added to help create a culture of awareness amongst the citizens of the city.