However, in many countries (particularly in third-world countries) some emigrational tendencies that are mostly dictated by economic and social factors, are creating quite a plausible picture of our future world, revealing the most likely and formidable phenomena we may face in future. Some large cities are experiencing serious problems related to rapidly increasing inflow of countrymen who, for various reasons, are forced to leave countryside and look for a better life in cities.
Over the past few decades, most economies have been developing in such a way as to provide propitious conditions for rapid urbanization. Industrial development plus numerous revolutionary technological breakthroughs that took place in the twentieth century have resulted in the appearance of large factories. The growing demand for paid workforce has attracted country dwellers, leading to massed withdrawal of human resources from rural areas. In terms of personal affluence, the concentration of social and economic activity in the city has made urban environment more attractive and promising.
Although governments of some countries have realized the danger of such economic tilts, most rural lands are still experiencing severe shortage of financial support resulting in persistent skepticism of many people about life in the countryside. It is to say, that it takes a lot of innovative thinking and political will on the part of a government to balance out the local economy, as well as the realization of the fact that harsh mandatory or administrative measures imposed on people to make them stay in rural areas alone will not suffice.
It will be not before we manage to create economically healthy and prosperous environment in the village that we shall be able to speak about things in the countryside taking a turn for the better. We have considered the negative of withdrawal of human, financial, industrial and technological resources from the village from the standpoint of rural life. This long-lasting tendency seems to be making it hot for cities too.
In many cities, especially in world capitals, unending inflow of immigrants seeking wealthy and prospect, has contributed to rapid and uncontrolled population growth, resulting in tough and fierce competition in the sphere of management and acute contradictions between management and hired staff, entailing collisions of interests, progressive social stratification and environmental deterioration. All this has led to a number of doubtful achievements and hazards, which appear to be making city life far less comfortable than it used to be a short while ago. Today, Mexico city is the worlds largest capital, counting about 22 million people.
Mexico is a large industrial city, and it appears to be sharing the fate of most industrial centers of the world, barely coping with the influx of countrymen. The acceptance by the Mexican government of certain trading rules in line with international agreements, a paramount condition of the countrys participation in the WTO, has impacted rural economy, causing a dramatic economic collapse in the agricultural sector, resulting from the imbalance between local prices and those imposed by WTO regulations. This has triggered a new spate of internal migration from the countryside to the city.
Unfortunately, problems that the city of Mexico has accumulated by now are not limited to overpopulation. It is not the overpopulation itself that poses most serious difficulties, but also ineffectual measures taken by the city government. To say the least, with the inflow so intensive and so evident, the citys townplanning committee does not seem to be fully taking into account the migration problem, or they simply fail to keep pace with the time. The city infrastructure fails to keep up with the population increase, so people arriving in Mexico take up residence in shabby makeshift homes on the citys outskirts or in slum districts.
These districts lack water and gas supply, sewage, electricity, services, etc. , and there are no advanced waste disposal systems whatsoever. This has resulted in absolutely unfavorable environmental and epidemiologic conditions. Most of garbage and human wastes remain on or close to the surface of the earth, and large parts of it are carried by winds for miles away and into the city. Unsanctioned dumping may spoil water and cause massed poisonings or outbreaks of infection.
This in turn directly affects the quality of the food, increasing the risk of its contamination with harmful substances and bacteria. There is another menacing phenomenon resulting from uncontrolled population growth and topped off by the citys geographic position. Permanent release of carbodyoxide by factories, coupled with the release of automobile waste gases is putting the city on the brink of suffocation. Statistically, automobile emissions make up about 60% of all emissions, and, considering the increasing vehicle ownership, there seems to be no way to reduce automobile emissions.
The realization that internal combustion is the greatest contributor to the accumulation of emission gases in the atmosphere has prompted automobile designers to equip vehicles with catalytic converters, but today there are too few such cars to make the effect palpable. The city is placed on a plateau fenced off with high mountain ranges. The cold air arriving from behind the mountains forms a cap over the whole valley preventing the warm and stuffed city air from getting away. This lack of natural convection contributes to the accumulation of harmful emissions in the area and may turn the whole place into a gigantic gas van.
The continuing economic growth, extensive factory development and ever-growing population in Mexico City are aggravating the pollution problem. The accumulation of heavy metals in the air can undermine peoples health and result in serious progressive hereditary diseases, increasing the occurrence of cancer, chronic poisoning, high infant mortality, cardiovascular diseases, allergic reactions, innate orthopedic malformations, poor cognition and many other physical and mental abnormalities.
Progressive intake of harmful substances directly affects the nations genetic makeup, and it is hardly possible now to precisely foresee all consequences of these destructive influences. Active use of depths of the earth, resulting from ever-bulging demand for minerals and oil has triggered rapid and unpredictable underground processes, resulting in unstable aquifers and causing much water to go deeper into the ground, making it less reachable.
As long as the city is situated in a seismologically unstable region with an active volcano in its direct proximity, further deterioration of the bed may result in disastrous earthquakes, which, in turn, are likely to wake up the volcano and plunge the whole area into an apocalyptic calamity. Apart from the destruction of the bedrock, destruction of aquifers is fraught with the disappearance of water in some places and appearance of excessive amounts of it in others. This may cause lack of water supply and actual drying out of some areas and lead to unexpected floods elsewhere.
The formation of empty spaces in the bed has caused some areas to sink significantly over the past few decades, which increases the possibility of flooding. At the same time, the emptying of the aquifers due to extraneous consumption of water by the growing city has led to a dramatic reduction of natural water resources, threatening to leave the whole city without water in the foreseeable future. According to last estimates, every second the city of Mexico takes 7,250 gallons of water, which amounts to an Olympic-size swimming pool per minute.
With the consumption of water so intensive, there is a grave possibility that the amount of water remaining in the aquifers will be insufficient. Needless to say, this is much more serious a threat that inability to afford a car or a TV. In some areas, shortage of water is already tangible, and it has resulted in social upheavals. Changes in bedrock structure and the progressive subsidence of the ground can also result in the destruction of sewer and drainage systems, increasing the risk of contaminating fresh water and thus threatening to impair its quality.
As we can see, all the aforementioned threats arise from one major phenomenon overpopulation. Needless to say, increasingly intensive use of water and resources is attributable to population growth and human thirst for relative prosperity and every individuals desire to occupy his or her niche in the booming economy. However, this brief outline of most significant problems and dilemmas shows that if we continue to use natural resources in the current fashion, the place we live in will soon become absolutely unlivable.
In this respect, the city of Mexico can be presented as a small replica of our entire planet, which, with the same tendencies and phenomena persisting, will soon be confronted with similar problems. There is less and less room for industrial and vehicle emission gases and, like it is with the aquifers under Mexico city, the increasing encroachment upon minerals and oil resources is affecting the earths bedrock, creating pre-conditions for unpredictable and destructive earthquakes and massive destruction.
With the situation so serious and menacing tendencies so evident, many governmental authorities of Mexico City, as well as state authorities express their concern about the countrys future and come up with lots of ideas, which are likely to prove helpful and effective in overcoming these negative tendencies. Whichever idea is the best, just one thing is evident today, and this is the necessity to create positive incentives and favorable conditions for people to live and work in the countryside in order to stem the growth of city population.
As air quality issue appears to be the most evident one, the city government has developed a number of solutions aimed at reduction of industrial and vehicle releases into the atmosphere. By incorporating advanced technological systems and usage of higher quality fuel, it is possible to significantly improve air quality. Recently, a state-of-the-art air quality monitoring system has been implemented, so government officials and specialists have obtained control over air quality. Now every vehicle is required to feature advanced converting devices that are capable to cut down the release of toxic substances.
In November 1989, the city Government introduced the so called No Driving Day (NDD), when car owners are supposed not to use their vehicles on certain days. The results of this innovation were a considerable reduction of traffic congestion and gasoline use. The use of refined types of fuel and the installation of waste gas purification and vapor recovery equipment are innovative measures regulated by the Clear Air Act Amendments of 1990. Hypothetically, these measures can be instrumental in reducing the amount of vehicle-related chemicals in the air and thus improve air quality.
However, these ideas, though effective theoretically, have proven less feasible in reality. As a rule, advanced technological solutions are something than few people can afford, and most people find it less expensive to bribe authorized inspection employees and use old vehicles than purchasing new automobiles or applying expensive technologies. Not infrequently, the cost of implementing new equipment exceeds the size of fines by far, so people prefer to pay fines rather than spend money on equipment.
For this reason, the results of the latest innovations have turned out to be less tangible than expected. The NDD policy has also revealed a number of unexpected actions on peoples side. Instead of increased usage of public transportation, Mexico City dwellers found a way around it by purchasing more vehicles in order to have a reserve automobile to be used on No Driving Days. Actually, this nullified the immediate positive tendencies that showed during initial stages of the NDD policy. Other attempts to limit air pollution include increased vehicle ownership taxation and boosting the price of fuels.
The advocates of these measures believed that this would discourage people from using cars and thus reduce the impact on the environment. All these measures have proven less effective than expected, since most Mexico residents simply cannot afford new vehicles, to which the new regulations actually spread, and prefer to use old vehicles without having to purchase new equipment. Now, having discussed a few measures that have been taken over the last several years in an attempt to solve the ecological problem, we can see that they are not always applicable or effective.
As there is just one major problem that all these issues stem from the overpopulation all efforts to change things for the better must be concentrated on solving overpopulation problem. Although mandatory measures, such as inspections, bans, taxation and can have a temporary effect, there is no way to achieve significant improvement in air and water quality but by using wise economical and political instruments. Once again, in order to encourage city dwellers to move to rural areas, healthy economic environment must be created in agricultural regions.
This is only feasible through establishing price standards acceptable for country dwellers and creating an ample ground for agricultural business. In other words, in order to stop the growth of city population, we have to make the village no less livable than the city. Unfortunately, very little is being done to improve life in the country, since it would take a decision by the Mexican government to unilaterally withdraw from the WTO, which can entail a conflict with the USA, the founder of the WTO.
Today, the Mexican government still prefers to use doubtful methods of forcing the poor to leave the city by raiding their encampments, as it did in the late 1990s. 1. Phil Hearse. MEXICO CITY Environmental Crisis, Socialist Solutions. Environment and Urbanization, Vil. 11, No 1, 53-78 (1999) 2. Ramiro Tovar Landa, 1995. Mobile Source Pollution in Mexico City and Market-Based Alternatives Published by the Cato Institute. Editorial and business offices are located at 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N. W. , Washington, D. C. , 20001