You Breathe, You Die

by Vlarivière on November 23, 2015 - 6:25pm

The reasons why people choose to live in the cities are that all the services are closer and easier of access than if your home is somewhere in the middle of a field with your nearest neighbor living at ten minutes by car. However, this easy access comes with a price; with that many people all living in a certain area, environmental problems were bound to happen. One of the biggest issue for the megacities is the air quality, because the pollutants from the transportation affect the air quality to the point where the biggest cities in the world like Dubai and Beijing have period of smog when the particles of air pollutants are actually visible and people are warned to stay indoors to limit the effects of the air on their health.</h1><h1>So, indeed, cities are not perfect and can present major issues, but, with the example of Mexico City, there is hope that even the biggest cities will work in a sustainable manner if the necessary measures are taken. As described in the article “How global warming is making Mexico City smog worse” from the Los Angeles Daily News, Mexico City made drastic plans back in 1992 to improve the air quality which was so bad that birds died in flight. They relocated some factories and changed the public transportation system to an electric one and banished the use of gas containing lead. There was also the ever increasing number of cars in the city. There are approximately 5.5 million cars in the city and its urban sprawl. In 1989, the city tried to deal with it by limiting the number of cars permitted on the roads with a system of odd and even plates by alternating between odd plate cars’ day and even plate cars’ day. Today, the quantity of lead in the air decreased by ninety percent and lost its title of most polluted city in the world. It does face a new issue due to the climate change which is a considerable increase in temperature. At higher temperature, the air is more polluted because the particles are released faster. Even though their geography and weather do not permit the city to attain a good air quality, Mexico City proved that there are solutions, the government only needs to put time, people and money into it. Unfortunately, it is not something that all governments are willing to do because they do not believe that investing in the environment is a profitable business. However, the cost to treat persons affecting by the bad air quality for the health system is so high that it would actually be lucrative to do so. I believe that with efforts, cities can become sustainable and better places for people who actually live there.</h1><h1>&nbsp;</h1><h1>


This is a good example of a circumstance where regulatory instruments put in place by a governing body actually made a measurable difference, one that people could quite literally see. All of the changes they made in the name of sustainability, health and environmental protection have obviously been well worth the investment. I like how you pointed out the cost of making these changes in comparison to the cost of treating the aftermath; you show that though the price to implement these changes may be high, it is potentially not as high as the health costs to the population.

I think that because the people can physically see the difference that these regulations have made, they will likely be in support of further environmental initiatives in Mexico City, and even beyond.

Do you think Mexico City could make any further changes that can reduce the incoming effects of climate change? I just think it's too bad that their environmental successes may be undermined by increasing temperatures now and into the future.

You Breathe, You Die Comments
Your article was informative and revealed an important topic on society and environment as a whole. Are you aware about urban form? Briefly, it is the distribution and type of infrastructures within geography (like suburbs, cities, country sides). I believe your news summary touched upon sustainable urban development that is why I wanted to comment on your findings.
There are always opportunities to improve development, even in the most urbanized places, or in what your article mentioned “megacities”. Recently, it has brought to my attention of the many solutions how a concentrated society can manage the distribution of their infrastructures, while providing sustainable and positive effects on the environment. I believe the best way to improve the environmental conditions we live today, is to start where there is the most of human activities around the world. To start off with, why not condense specific areas within a city, by adding easy access transportation systems and convenient walking distant shops and goods? A good example of that would be in the Netherlands, where in the city of Woorerf, users not only share the streets without boundaries, but are able to reach certain places since they are convenient to them. There has been development on creating ECO-districts in some part of the world, and the plan is well encouraged by many (Ben-Joseph, 2007, 1).
It’s important to apply these methods in our lives, since a majority of us live in compacted areas like in cities.
Ban-Joseph, E. (2007, November 26). Changing the Residential Street Scene: Adapting the shared street (Woonerf) Concept to the Suburban Environment. Retrieved November 24, 2015, from

Having heard someone say that the sky in Mexico is actually grey because so many people lived there and smoked, I decided to ask my Mexican friends. They told me it was only in the big cities, like Mexico City because so many people lived there. They also corrected me and told me that the bad air quality is due to the geography. Mexico City is surrounded by mountains. This can be compared to a bowl, where the flat part is the actual city. All the smoke from all those people who drive gets trapped and doesn't come out. Tourists see Mexico as some sort of tropical paradise but that's because they're visiting resorts near the ocean and shore, like Cancun.

It is true that it the geography is part of the problem and I did read on that. I did not forget it, it is simply that, in this article, it was not really talking about it so I just mentioned it briefly " Even though their geography and weather". It could have been relevant to talk more about that cause of the issue.

About the author