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Environmental Issues of Latin America WTK - GPS Standard SS6G2 • You will discuss environmental issues in Latin America. Explain the major environmental concerns of Latin America regarding the issues of air pollution in Mexico City, Mexico, the destruction of the rain forest in Brazil, and oil-related pollution in Venezuela. • The standard is asking you to take a broad approach to the environmental issues in Latin America. You should be able to provide some background information on the environmental issues listed in the element and the consequences (effect on the economies and populations) of Latin America. • In this element the you are being asked to explain the impact of three significant issues: air pollution, destruction of the rain forest, and oil- related pollution. Air Pollution in • Mexico City, Mexico What causes air pollution… – Air pollution is mainly emitted though the exhaust of motor vehicles, the combustion of fossil fuels, the burning of coal and oil – Most of the pollution from coal burning on Earth comes from the production of electricity – Main sources of air pollution – factories and cars • What geographic feature adds to the air pollution issue in Mexico City… – Mexico City, with 20 million residents, sits at 2,255 meters (7,400 feet) and is largely surrounded by mountains, creating a basin (bowl shape) where inversions of colder air can be trapped by warmer air – Pollution from human activities collects in the air • Explain the major environmental concerns surrounding air pollution in Mexico City, Mexico… – The air is so bad that children are more likely to have breathing problems and develop lung disease when they grow up – Older adults must stay indoors and limit activity – On most days, the hazy, polluted sky blocks the view to the mountains – Over 19 million people live in Mexico City, more than double the population of the entire state of Georgia – Factories and cars send pollution such as lead, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide into the air – Many of the cars are older models which produce more pollution than new cars Air Pollution in Mexico City, Mexico (cont.) • Describe the connection between air pollution and acid rain… – Acid rain is formed when air pollution meets rain • Discuss the damage caused by this acid rain… – Harmful to surface waters (lakes and streams) and aquatic animals – Harmful to forests – Damages automotive coatings – Damages buildings, monuments and other materials – Creates poor visibility – Effects human health • Explain the reasons driving restrictions have been placed on people in Mexico City… – Because the population continues to grow, Mexico City must continue to find ways to clean its air – Drivers must leave the cars home once a week – Mexico is trying to increase the number of cars that produce little or no air pollution Destruction of the Rain Forest in Brazil • Describe factors causing destruction of the rain forest… – Cutting of trees or logging – Mining – Cattle ranching – largest form of deforestation – Farming • Explain the concerns regarding the destruction of the rain forest in Brazil… – Environmental campaignists feel there will be no Amazon Rain Forest in 40 years – Causes of deforestation are still in place – which creates less forest to produce goods that humans need – Global warming could lead to melting ice sheets, rising sea levels, and worldwide flooding – The forest holds large amounts of water – remove the trees and the water will have to go somewhere; the Basin will be come drier and land surfaces hotter, stronger storms, no canopy to intercept rain; all of this leads to soil erosion – Estimates say 20% of world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon region • Describe the consequences associated with this destruction… – Mining has left an ugly scar on the landscape – Parts of forests being destroyed to the point of no repair – Climate and Greenhouse effect (energy/heat being trapped by carbon dioxide in atmosphere) – Trees help maintain balance of gases in the atmosphere – rainforest is the main storehouse of carbon, cut the trees down, they release the carbon, forming carbon dioxide when it hits the air Oil Related Pollution in Venezuela • The issue is… – Venezuela is one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas in the world – The country is the fifth-largest producer of oil in the world – It has been producing oil for about a hundred years – It is now one of the top four sources of oil for the United States – In fact, about 15 percent of the oil sold in the United States comes from Venezuela – The money from oil sales accounts for about half the money received by the government of Venezuela • The consequences of this oil-pollution in Venezuela are… – Oil spills and tanker leaks have damaged the environment in the region. – Lake Maracaibo is the largest lake in South America. • Due to the large amount of oil removed from the nearby areas, the land in the area is changing. • The eastern shore of the lake is dropping about three inches a year • The government built a dike to keep the water in the lake from flooding the nearby homes, towns, and farms • The impact on surrounding areas is… – Along the Caribbean Sea, Venezuela’s coast has become polluted with oil – They have also hurt the ability of fishermen to earn a living – The country leads South America in the production of the gas carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of burning fossil fuels like natural gas and oil • High levels of carbon dioxide in the air can cause breathing problems for children and the elderly • Other health problems can occur in healthy adults after long exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide • Some scientists believe that increases in carbon dioxide contribute to “global warming” • They believe this because carbon dioxide tends to trap warm air at the surface of the Earth instead of letting it rise Sources • Place and People: Amazonia: Exploiting the Forest. Channel 4. (1991). Retrieved February 3, 2010, from Discovery Education: http://streaming.discoveryeducation.com/ • http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/1997-09/PNNL-BTAP-090997.php • http://www.keepbanderabeautiful.org/keepearthpollution.html?gclid=COeX- 8Xo4Z8CFQLHsgodYGOvGg • http://www.epa.gov/acidrain/effects/index.html
"Environmental Issues of Latin America"