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Mexico is the 12th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, and the second largest in Latin America. The country is already experiencing longer and hotter periods, more droughts, more intense rains and hurricanes, and frequent floods and mudslides. If climate change is not addressed, the Mexican economy is expected to decline by between 3.5 and 4 percent and suffer significant costs of up to 6.2 percent of GDP.

The odd physical configuration of Mexico gives it many temperatures and three distinct climates, all, curiously enough, within a very few hours' ride of one another.

The relaxing tierra caliente (hot country) begins at the seacoast and extends inward and upward to an altitude of about 3,000 feet (914 meters), with a yearly average temperature of 80°-88° F. (26°-31° C.) and an extreme of 100°-105° F. (370-39° C). The best-known towns lying along this littoral are Merida, Campeche. A'ern Cruz, and Tampico, on the Gulf, and Guaymas, Mazatlan, Mauznnilla, Acapulco, and Salina Cruz, on the Pacific. The winter climate (December-February) of these places is admirable—like early May days in the Central United States of America—but broken at intervals by furiout> nortes, which lower the temperature 10 to 20 degrees in a few hours. The summer dog days (caniculares) in Vera Cruz or Guaymas are never so hot as those in New York. The cool land breeze, which blows seaward in the morning and returns at nightfall, makes life in tropical Vera Cruz, for example, far more supportable.

The tierra templada (temperate country) lies between 3,000 and 6,500 feet (914-1,981 meters), with an average all-the-year temperature of 73°-77° F. (22°-25° C.); the variation during a season may not be more than 6° or 8°. The finest of the Mexican climates is found between these elevations. The immunity from heavy frosts is as complete as that from extreme humidity, noxious insects, and sudden temperature changes. Dryness is the emphatic quality, with freedom in the dry season (October-May) from malaria, and a perpetual exemption from the keen, cold winds of the higher altitudes and the hygienic deficiencies of the maritime regions. Semitropical products thrive side by side with those of the tropics, and there are farms where wheat and sugar cane grow almost within touch of each other. Certain of the towns in this zone are natural, open-air sanitariums. One of these health stations is Guadalajara, with an almost perfect climate. Other towns noted for a climate particularly suited to invalids fearsome of quick temperature changes are Orizaba, Oaxaca, Cuautla, and Cuemavaca. The latter place is one of the most favored winter stations north of the Equator. It is unusually free from cold waves (ondas frias) and from brusque climatic changes.

The tierra fria (cold country);-cold only in comparison to the heat at the coast—rises above the 0,500-foot (1,981 meters) level and extends to snow line (12.500 feet—3.810 meters—in the tropics) ; above this the thermometer often sinks below freezing point. The average temperature of the alleged tierra fria is 59°-62° F. (14°-16° C). with slight changes, except in winter, when a norte may bring a light snowfall to Mexico City and topple the mercury down to 35° or 40" F. (2°-5° C). In Toluca and the high mountain towns the thermometer has been known to register 20° F. (—5° C). The rainfall in this cold region is one-fifth ns much as that of the temperate zone. In the sunny pockets and sheltered valleys of the tierra fria the vegetation is often quite luxuriant.

Mexico experiences great climatic variation owing to its considerable north-south extension and variations in elevation. The climate of much of northern and central Mexico is characterized by high temperatures and moderate to low rainfall. The highlands of the central plateau generally have a moderate climate with few extremes of hot or cold. Temperatures in Mexico City, for example, range from an average of 17° C in July to 12° C in January. The northern and central areas of the plateau are arid to semiarid; the drier regions receive about 300 millimeters of rainfall annually.

Annual rainfall increases to about 600 millimeters in the southern part of the plateau, including the Mexico City area. The northern coastal areas, including Baja California, are arid. Rainfall along the Pacific Coast averages just 130 millimeters, as compared with 250 to 600 millimeters along the northern Gulf coast. Much of southern Mexico has a tropical climate with distinct rainy and dry seasons. Temperatures in the coastal regions range from 21° C to 27° C. Annual rainfall, which ranges from 1,500 millimeters to 2,000 millimeters, occurs mainly during the rainy season of May to October. The Gulf coast is subject to hurricanes.

Mexico faces significant environmental challenges affecting almost every section of the country. Vast expanses of tropical and subtropical forests in the south have been denuded for cattle raising and agriculture. Deforestation has contributed to serious levels of soil erosion nationwide. Soil destruction is particularly pronounced in the north and northwest. More than 60 percent of land is considered in a total or accelerated state of erosion. The result is a mounting problem of desertification throughout the region. Mexico's coastline is threatened by inadequately protected petroleum extraction in the Gulf of Mexico, which has damaged marine ecosystems. Mexico City is one of the world's most polluted urban areas. Vehicle emissions and other airborne contaminants have been blamed for a wide range of respiratory illnesses. Polluted water from Mexico City has been linked to congenital birth defects and high levels of gastrointestinal illnesses in the neighboring state of Hidalgo. Government antipollution measures have met with limited success.

Across Mexico, farmers wait for rain that doesn’t come. Severe droughts, punctuated by intense storms and flooding, are huge environmental challenges for Mexico in the coming century. By 2080, agricultural declines are expected to drive 1.4 million to 6.7 million adult Mexicans out of the country. Most of those people will come to the United States.

Hardly the drug lords and criminals of Trumpian myth, most Mexican climate migrants are struggling rural people (not unlike Trump’s own supporters). They depend on predictable weather to grow the crops they eat. When they know the rain isn’t coming, or their home has been destroyed in a flood, or some other climate-fueled event has upended their lives, families face limited options: starve or move. The primary factors driving Mexicans to migrate to the United States are better economic prospects or family connections — both of which can be twisted up with climate change. But in Mexico and around the world, climate changes tend to reshuffle populations within borders, too. Droughts and floods, in particular, often trigger shorter-distance moves, largely from rural areas into cities.

Climate-related vulnerability in the western portion of the US-Mexico border region from Baja California to El Paso, includes border counties in the United States and municipalities in Mexico. Most of the border’s population is concentrated along the international boundary in fourteen city pairs that constitute binational urban systems. The border region has higher poverty, water insecurity, substandard housing, and lack of urban planning relative to the rest of the United States, and multiple socioeconomic asymmetries exist between the US and Mexico sides of the border.

Climate models project that average annual temperatures will increase between 2°F and 6°F during the mid-century time frame (around 2041-2070, according to the high-emissions scenario). Spring precipitation is projected to decrease, exacerbating dryness in the region’s driest season and probably intensifying dryness in the summer season as well. These climate variations increase the likelihood of drought, with ramifications for northern Mexico water supplies and probably groundwater recharge.

Expected effects of climate changes include: constraints on available water supply to major cities reliant on Colorado River water; increased urban-agriculture competition over water; constraints on meeting increasing regional water and energy demand; and threats to ecosystems of high-resource value, including endangered species habitat, such as Rio Grande estuaries that are home to migrating cranes, geese, and fish. Climate change in the Southwest will place additional burdens on an already-stressed water system. Both the United States and Mexico have aging water infrastructures that are very expensive to fix.

For more than a decade, Mexico, with World Bank support, has worked to develop ambitious policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The financial, knowledge, and coordination services facilitated by the Bank have contributed to increasing the areas under environmental management by 20 percent, to improving air quality in Mexico City, and to increasing water availability.

Corn has for thousands of years been a symbol of Mexican pride, a staple of local and national cuisine from tortillas to tamales and the backbone of civilizations that gave rise to modern Mexico. But climate change has jeopardised that. One hectare in some years yielded as many as four tonnes (8,800lbs) of corn. In the five years since 2015, with luck that hectare yielded 700kg (1,500lbs). The corn harvest has shrunk because in the months of June, July, August and September there was no rain.

A 2016 study commissioned by the environment ministry and backed by the United Nations Development Programme concluded that climate change in Mexico will mean less rain, lower yields for basic grains such as corn, beans and wheat, as well as "unexpected effects on food security". Mexican corn farmers have suffered major shocks in the past - most notably the arrival of cheap imports from the US under the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 1990s. In the north of Mexico, where large cornfields are irrigated, climate change may initially have little impact, studies show.

But in the south, where the oldest corn strains on Earth are grown using traditional methods without irrigation, the changing rain patterns and temperatures were already being felt. Agricultural consulting group GCMA estimates Mexican corn production would continue to decline in 2020, and that corn imports mainly from the US will reach a record 18 million tonnes.

While Mexico is responsible for 1.5 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and ranks 12th among the largest emitting countries, it is a global leader in combating climate change. In 2009, Mexico adopted a long-term, economy-wide strategy aimed at reducing the country’s emission levels by 30 percent in 2020 and by 50 percent in 2050, compared to 2000 levels. Mexico also passed a comprehensive climate change law in 2012 (link is external) - the second country in the world to do so after the United Kingdom - that commits the country to 35 percent of Mexico's energy to come from clean sources by 2024 and requires government agencies to use renewable energy. Mexico has already made progress towards these targets, with 22 percent of its electricity generated through renewable and clean fuel sources by 2013.

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Page last modified: 24-02-2020 18:13:58 ZULU