Scientists turn to the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico to study Mars due to its comparable inhospitable features. The Chihuahuan Desert shares similar characteristics with the surface of Mars, such as extreme temperatures, high ultraviolet light and dunes are very similar to the area of Mars’ Gale crater,… where NASA’s Curiosity rover will land in August.
In order to examine what kind of species might possibly survive in an environment like Mars, scientists sought out any form of water in the area. Researchers found vestiges of the earliest Earth microbes in the Chihuahuan Desert. This Earthly evidence bolsters the possibility of life on early Mars when it was warmer and wetter.
Despite the scientists’ belief in the importance of research on Earth as a supplement to that on Mars in understanding space, water extraction from the area by locals has become dangerously high, threatening to damage the ecosystem of the Chihuahuan Desert.
The German automaker BMW delivered 12 models of the electric Mini Cooper , Mini Es, to high profile individuals, such as government officials and researchers in Mexico City. This distribution hopes to gain information from the new drivers on the electric cars’ mobility and power consumption, as well as road… conditions in a highly congested like the Mexican capitol.
BMW CEO Gerd Dressler said the company hopes the cars’ temporary owners also rely information on “battery performance, charge times, charges in their driving habits and use of the vehicle in Mexico City”.
The response to real traffic conditions, among other characteristics, by the new prototypes, which are scheduled to be launched in Mexican markets in 2014, will complement already completed studies.
This program is one of a series of Mini E field trials in several populated cities around the world that maintain a high number of automobiles, including Germany and China.
Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, a recipient of a Mini E, commented on the direction and steps that the city must take to replace the 4 million autos with internal combustion engines found throughout the city and continue the capitol’s “Green Plan.” He sees the Mini E as a new chance to improve the environment and guarantee a more rational use of natural resources.
Who says rock n’ roll can’t save the world…or at least make it a better place? One of the most influential Mexican rock bands, Maná, is demonstrating that musicians can use their music and influence to make a significant difference in society. The rock band Maná, coming out of… Guadalajara, Mexico, has developed a strong adherence to environmental sustainability and awareness throughout the years. They believe in the increasing importance of the link between the environment and the economy, and have been key players in many green projects in Guadalajara and the surrounding areas. Among their environmental involvements was the creation of the Selva Negra Ecological Foundation and the Darwin Initiative project. This latest project, with the full support of the Mexican government, has the goal of protecting and preserving the La Primavera Forest region of Mexico. The area has been subjected to devastating wildfires in recent years and the project hopes to promote rural ecological development, as well as the conservation of important pockets of biodiversity. In addition, the band will directly do their part in promoting positive energy practices during their Drama y Luz World Tour. The lead singer of the rock group, Fher Olvera says, “This is one of the most important projects we have undertaken. It shows the way forward by taking practical, concrete, actions. It is not only about being committed to protecting the environment, but also protecting the livelihoods of people and their connection with nature.” Fher Olvera and the other musical men of Maná are proving that constructive change is possible through cooperation and commitment to a cause.
As energy conservation becomes a more critical priority to the larger energy world, and energy resources are strained globally, Mexico is doing its part to conserve and contribute to a more sustainable future.
Now Conermex, a Mexican solar energy company, is upping the ante with its goal of reaching a total of 12 megawatts (MW) of electricity generated through solar energy by the end of 2012.
With a current solar capacity of 6 MW total in the country, this push toward greater solar implementation will continue to bolster Mexico as a leader in energy efficiency, and will effectively double its solar capacity.
Mexico is already the top solar energy producer in Latin America, and shows great potential for expansion moving forward. “Mexico is amongst the top five countries with the greatest extension of territory with solar irradiation,” said Carlos Flores, CEO of Conermex. “The nation receives approximately 400 TW of solar radiation a year.”
Mexico’s National Solar Energy Association (ANES) recently claimed that Mexico could one day generate all of its electricity from solar energy. As the country continues to invest in solar energy and realize its potential to do so, it makes great strides for the future of the environment, as well as the economy in Mexico.
Pristine beaches and endless jungles, crystalline cenotes and underground rivers, the life force of the Riviera Maya in Mexico flows in these natural wonders of the region. For centuries, the beauty of the Yucatan Peninsula lay untouched, seen only by the local Mayan residents and the thousands of species of wildlife… that call the area home. In the 1970’s, the Mexican government began to develop the area for tourism, and people from around the world began to discover the marvels of destinations such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and Tulum. With millions of visitors each year and the numbers continuing to rise, the issue of sustainable development and tourism is vital to the Mexican Caribbean. Finding the delicate balance between the preservation of nature and culture and the economic success of the local residents will ensure that the destination has a future for all to enjoy.
The concept of sustainable development is relatively new, first being introduced in a report to the United Nations in 1987 and later being applied to tourism in 2004. The UNWTO, “United Nations World Tourism Organization”, defines sustainable tourism as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”. Sustainable development of tourism is grouped around the three goals of sustainability: environmental protection, social equity and cohesion, and economic prosperity.
Tourism in the Mexican Caribbean represents over 90% of industry in the region. The population of the area has risen from around 88,000 in 1970 to over 1 million residents today; people from around the country rely on the travel industry to maintain their families and their livelihoods. The entire nation of Mexico relies on tourism as one of the top generators of income, and Cancun and the Riviera Maya represent 50% of the country’s tourism revenue. The future of the region and the country depends on sustainable development and tourism, ensuring that generations to come will be able to enjoy the natural environments and continue to thrive economically while maintaining their identity and culture.
One of the leaders in the area of sustainable development is the hotel Hacienda Tres Rios. The resort opened in 2008 near Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya on 326 acres of lush jungle on a stretch of white sand beach. Since the first days of development, the resort has given priority to maintaining the natural environment. Teams of scientists and experts devoted more than two years to investigation and research to determine the manner in which the hotel could be built in the least invasive way. The hotel itself only occupies only 5% of the land, while the rest is an untouched natural preserve. The buildings were constructed on over 400 pilings, 2.8 meters above ground, which allows natural water flow to continue. (“Tres Rios” means “Three Rivers”, with water flowing throughout the property.) The first workers on the site were members of the “Green Team”, which identified and marked all endangered and protected plant species, which were carefully removed to the plant nursery. Pre-fabricated construction materials assembled onsite reduced contamination to the eco-system, and regional materials were used to contribute to the local economy.
The daily operations of the hotel continue to embrace sustainable practices. The “environmental management system” is comprised of 7 programs and 20 sub-programs that include plant and wildlife management, monitoring of the environment, waste management, environment education and environment contingency actions. The reforestation program has contributed to the restoration of 6 acres of mangroves destroyed by tropical storms, with over 80,000 mangrove plants cultivated in the nursery. The Green Team constantly monitors and cares for the more than 120 species and plants and 90 species of animals that reside on the property.
The resort employs the “Three R’s”: reduce, re-use and recycle. Organic waste is used in composting, while plastic, glass, aluminum and cardboard are separated and sent to be recycled, and local suppliers of food are required to deliver in re-usable containers. Only biodegradable cleaning products are used, and paper in the hotel is made of 50% recycled, unbleached fibers.
The hotel prides itself in being energy-efficient. The air conditioning systems use advanced technology to reduce the energy used and secondarily to act as a heating system for water. Energy efficient light bulbs are used throughout the hotel, movement sensors shut off lights in unoccupied rooms and air conditioning units are automatically turned off when a balcony door is opened.
Through the incredible efforts of the Green Team, Hacienda Tres Rios has been recognized internationally for being a leader in sustainable tourism, winning multiple awards and being one of the very few resorts in the world to receive high levels of achievement from the “Green Globe” association. They are a role model for the tourism industry, setting the standard for the future of the Riviera Maya and Mexico.
The Green Growth Action Alliance was launched at the B20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico this past week in order to motivate the environmental development of the economy. Ditlev Engel, the President and CEO of Vestas Wind Systems, a Danish company dedicated to providing innovative manufacturing of wind energy… turbines, co-chaired the B20 Task Force on Green Growth. Engel, along with this new Green Growth Task Force team, will spend their time promoting sustainable ways of living and an end to the use of fossil fuels as primary form of energy. Engel is joined by Fulvio Conti, CEO of Enel, in co-chairing the B20 Green Growth Task Force.
The Green Growth Task Force is composed of some of the world’s most influential energy companies who’re all devoted to changing the way businesses and the public look at energy use. Some of the businesses involved in the alliance include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Accenture, Samsung, and Vestas Wind Systems. The creation of sustainable technological practices is one important way society can progress to becoming more environmentally friendly. Engel commented on the importance of sustainability by saying, “Green is the color of sustainability. It’s also the color of money. Through green sustainable growth we can transform an inefficient, polluting and high resource-consuming economy into an efficient economy, which generates the best economic results using the fewest resources possible.” Renewable energy alternatives are the way of the future and can help positively revitalize the economy and the spirit of the global community.
Martha "Pati" Isabel Ruiz Corzo, founder of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG) was recently honored by the National Geographic Society. The National Geographic Society Buffett Award for Leadership in Latin American Conservation was awarded to Pati Ruiz Corzo in praise of her consistent and… monumental contributions to the growing environmental movement in Mexico, as well as in other parts of Latin America.
The award ceremony at the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C. celebrated the immense conservation efforts Ruiz Corzo has made in the Mexican community. Ruiz Corzo has directly organized and inspired considerable actions to preserve the vital bioregions of Mexico’s ecosystems and to protect these lands from natural disaster and human based environmental degradation.
As the founder of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, Ruiz Corzo is fueling a whole new movement of “conservation economy” and awareness within society. Started in 1987 with the help of her husband and local Mexican citizens, GESG has been inspiring individuals in the community ever since to become involved at the most grassroots level. She believes that through involvement everyone can contribute to the movement and initiate real change on many imperative fronts.
Ruiz Corzo has also been an advocate of combining the positive forces of ecotourism, environmental awareness, recycling, and sustainable growth to instigate a true sense of community and development within specific regions of Mexico. Ruiz Corzo is personally changing the way the Mexican people interact with and perceive their environment.
As part of the B20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, the B20 Green Growth Task Force and the World Economic Forum announced the launch of the Green Growth Action Alliance, a new partnership initiative addressing the estimated $1 trillion annual shortfall in green infrastructure investment. …
Ditlev Engel, chief executive officer of Vestas Wind Systems and co-chair of the B20 Green Growth Task Force stated, “Each year, $1 trillion is needed to deliver the necessary infrastructure to shift us onto a low carbon path. Public finance is constrained or shrinking, and the only way to deliver this green infrastructure is to mobilize more than $100 trillion in assets under management by the private finance community.”
Fulvio Conti, chief executive officer and general manager of Enel and co-chair of the B20 Green Growth Task Force added, “Sustainable growth generates multiple and mutually reinforcing benefits such as low carbon economy, accelerated job creation, healthier and wealthier populations, greater resource efficiency and biodiversity, and expanded access to more secure energy supplies. Through a more unified, coherent policy framework, business will be able to make the necessary investments in new opportunities that the green economic transformation promises,” he concluded.
Mexico is the setting of an interesting paradox when it comes to water. Although the country is known for its significant amount of yearly rainfall, Mexico still faces notable shortages in clean water. An organization called Isla Urbana is attempting to come up with a solution to the paradox Mexico… faces in terms of water supply. The organization is dedicated to providing rainwater harvesting systems in order to address the problems of flooding and clean water scarcity. Isla Urbana targets communities subjected to water scarcity and provides them with the resources to maintain sustainable water systems.
One of the primary examples of the work of Isla Urbana is in the region of Ajusco-Medio. Plumbers in this city are given the capabilities and the information they need to set up vast rainwater harvesting systems in the community. These rainwater harvesting systems transform water in Mexico from rainfall to water capable of being used in the home. With the proper filtration, the water can even be used as drinking water. The idea for the project was conceived of by two Mexican-American students, Enrique Lomnitz and Renata Fenton. Lomnitz stated, “because we met people there who were very interested in the system, and because the region combines extraordinary rainfall with chronic and widespread water shortages, making it ideal for rainwater harvesting”. These systems are changing the way people live by giving them the access they need to water sources. In addition, rainwater harvesting systems, if used properly could contribute to around 50 percent of Mexico City’s water supply in the near future.
Mexico has just received almost $400 million from the World Bank in the form of a loan and from the Forest Investment Program (FIP) in order… to develop a stronger forest protection plan. The Forest Investment Program, part of the Strategic Climate Fund (SCF), strives to combat deforestation and prevent the degradation of forests in Mexico by wildfires. The program also attempts to help developing countries reduce carbon emissions and transition to more eco-friendly foresting practices.
The newly allotted money will go towards funding programs set at providing instrumental knowledge and resources on global climate change and deforestation. The money will go towards creating a more sustainable Mexico, and protecting the lands and services so volatile to the country’s environment and economy from natural disaster. As well as directly helping the forests in Mexico, the funds will also generate a variety of different opportunities for individuals in certain indigenous communities. These new developments will have beneficial consequences for the Mexican population and environment as a whole.
In 2008, Mexico followed in the environmental footsteps of cities like Boston and London in the creation of the Cleantech Challenge Mexico (CTCM). Cleantech Challenge Mexico is a tournament of sorts that was originally initiated in Nairobi, Kenya. The competition helps bring green entrepreneurs together… in order to instigate real change and environmental consciousness on issues facing our earth. Cleantech Challenge Mexico gives people the opportunity to present business proposals and the winners are then provided funding for their projects. Cleantech projects compete for $30 million in investment to start out their ventures. Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres, the CEO and President of GreenMomentum,Inc. stated, “After the 2008 financial crisis, we started the Cleantech Challenge Mexico in order to directly contribute to the reactivation of Mexico’s economy.”
Cleantech Challenge Mexico is currently in its third year and is supported by many influential international organizations including USAID, UNIDO, and the Environmental Resource Management. Cleantech Challenge Mexico sees a variety of projects in the realm of recycling, sustainable manufacturing, and the fabrication of biodegradable products. All of these moves towards environmental awareness are vital for Mexico’s growing international prominence and domestic economy. The general director of Impulso Verde A.C. and co-organizer of the Cleantech Challenge Mexico 2012, Rafael Carmona explained, “The Cleantech Challenge Mexico has consolidated itself as a reference in Mexico’s green industry, creating a community of entrepreneurs that share the same vision.”
One of the most important successes of the Cleantech Challenge Mexico was the creation of the Carbon Diversion Latin America project. Carbon Diversion Latin America is dedicated to using waste material from certain tequila manufacturing factories and turning this waste into biomass.
Mexican authorities are reporting that a jaguar has been spotted for the first time near Mitla, 24 miles from the southern Oaxaca state capital, Oaxaca City. Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Areas says the jaguar is the first one confirmed to exist in the area and likely migrated from Oaxaca’s Sierra Juarez mountain range. …
The jaguar was detected by remote cameras attached to trees and other vegetation used by conservationists to observe the movement of animals at night. The camera also captured a puma and a white-tailed deer.
Israel Juarez Hernandez, the Secretary of the Commission for Communal Property, said that the sighting of jaguars and white-tailed deer was extremely rare, and surprised even long-term residents of the area.
"There were rumors and talk that there were pumas, but the fact that this jaguar was spotted here in our mountains is very rare, like the white-tailed deer. I have not seen one myself, but it's been proven that the white-tailed deer has existed here near our community," he said.
For many cultures, Jaguars are an important symbol of pre-Columbian mythology. As the jaguar is quite at home in the nighttime, the jaguar is believed to be part of the underworld. One such god is Xbalanque, one of the Maya Hero Twins who descended to the underworld, and whose entire body is covered with patches of jaguar skin. Another is God L, who is "the primary lord of the underworld" and often is shown with a jaguar ear or jaguar attire, and atop a jaguar throne.
Mexico City was once dubbed “Mexsicko City” because of its pollution and smog, similar to that of Los Angeles, California. Recently, however, Mexico City has made a huge improvement on the quality of its air due to a rise in awareness and various initiatives such as this one from VerdMX:… vertical gardens. Sculptures such as the arch pictured above and vertical gardens, hanging from walls, aim to clean both the air and the reputation that Mexico City gained in the 70s and 80s. As the nonprofit VerdMX states on its homepage, “better air, better economy”, making a clear link between the efficiency of ecology and its positive economic impact. Its primary function however, is to help rid the air of pollution and toxins and is a reminder for those around it how important natural life is for human health. As one of three ‘eco-sculptures’ installed across the city, the arch, holding over 50,000 plants, is both art and oxygenator. It catches the eye, and it also helps clean the air.
Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, the architect who designed the sculptures, said, ‘The main priority for vertical gardens is to transform Mexico City pollution. It’s a way to intervene in the environment.’
Many cities have green reputations — and Mexico City has quickly added itself to the list. The underdog in clean air has quickly become the leader as the air has gone from legendarily bad to much improved. Various pollution measurements and ozone levels now place it on roughly the same level as the air above Los Angeles.
“Both L.A. and Mexico City have improved but in Mexico City, the change has been a lot more,” said Luisa Molina, a research scientist with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has done extensive pollution comparisons. Mexico “is very advanced not just in terms of Latin America, but around the world. When I go to China, they all want to hear the story of Mexico.”
Suzlon Energy, one of the key wind power solutions providers in the world, has announced plans to enter the wind turbine industry in Mexico in the near future. Suzlon Energy manufactures products attributed to the wind energy industry like blades, generators, and panels. The company is dedicated to… advocating sustainability and emission control on a global level. They currently employ more than 140, 000 individuals. Suzlon Energy is dedicated to moving the global community away from a dependence on nonrenewable energy sources, such as fossil fuels, to a new reliance on replenished or renewable resources, like wind, solar, or water power.
Suzlon is the fifth largest supplier of wind turbines globally and has been influential in spreading their sustainable energy industry in many different locations including Europe, America, Australia, Denmark, India, and the Netherlands. Based in India, Erik Winter Petersen, the CEO of Suzlon for business in Latin America, announced their plan to introduce wind turbine projects in the Mexican regions of Baja California and Oaxaca. They plan to invest around 3,000 million dollars in the upcoming wind energy projects in Mexico and have received interest from multiple companies looking to potentially partner with them in their forthcoming endeavors. Countries like Mexico, Egypt and Morocco are anticipated to represent market potentials of around 10,000 MW in the next half a decade.
Ford, one of Mexico’s main car exporters last year, has just announced that in the near future they will be investing $1.3 billion in the Hermosillo Ford plant in Northern Mexico. This investment will lead to the employment of around 1,000 new workers on top of the 2,700 individuals… already employed at the location. Ford’s plant in Hermosillo, Mexico will be dedicated to the increased production of its anticipated midsize 2013 Ford Fusion vehicule and its new Lincoln MKZ vehicle. The 2013 Ford Fusion, available in the fall, will represent a landmark in the progression towards sustainable transportation practices in Mexico.
The 2013 Ford Fusion will give buyers the option of picking between a plug-in electric hybrid version of the vehicule or the standard gasoline version of the vehicule. The hybrid version of the automobile will run on a lithium-ion battery pack. Although Ford has been producing their cars in Mexico for almost 90 years, this new investment will allow the country to efficiently produce their new electric powered hybrid models and their new luxury car models.The President of Americas for Ford, Mark Fields stated that Ford “is making a significant investment in this facility and a significant commitment to the employees here while also transforming our vehicle linup for customers throughout North America.” This trend of developing production centers in Mexico has also been adapted by Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen. Today, Mexico is one of the most prominent exporters of cars to the rest of the world and their position is on the rise.