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  • Amalia Heide

ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS IN LATIN AMERICA

Latin America is home to eight countries that treasure nearly 70% of the planet's biodiversity. However, a large part of the population is unaware of this wealth. The environment suffers from significant threats such as deforestation, pollution, and drought. According to several scientists, countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, which form part of the group of nations with the greatest variety of fauna and flora in the world, have serious environmental problems to which practically no government has responded adequately.


Latin America is home to a third of the world's deforestation, accounting for 22% of the world's native forests, the equivalent of more than 860 million hectares. For example, in Brazil, the country with the highest biodiversity index, 7,464 square kilometers of the Amazon were devastated last year, equivalent to five times the area of Sao Paulo, the largest South American city. Here comes the list of some countries facing several environmental issues:

Colombia


In Colombia, an estimated 300,000 hectares of forest are destroyed each year as a direct result of drug production. To produce one gram of cocaine, an average of four square meters of the forest is destroyed. This is very damaging for the future of the country; apart from the destruction of society due to the consumption of narcotics, they are also destroying the environment.


Cuba and Argentina


Cuba is facing a complicated and prolonged drought in a large part of the country; 2009 was one of the four least rainy years of the last 109 years on the island. In Argentina, specifically in the Matanza-Riachuelo basin, which marks the southern limit of Buenos Aires and is home to a population of five million people, most of whom live in precarious conditions, it has for decades been the most polluted watercourse because it receives some 88,500 cubic meters of industrial waste per year.


Bolivia


In Bolivia, the main problems are also caused by mining, where the level of lead detected is three times higher than the 0.05 milligrams per liter allowed by the Environmental Law. In addition, there are tons of mercury from mining activities in countries such as Brazil and Venezuela.

Peru is also facing a critical situation in La Oroya, considered the most polluted city in Latin America, where people have severe health problems due to the high levels of contamination of metal particles released by the metallurgical complex.


Chile and Ecuador


Chile is still experiencing the consequences of lead and arsenic contamination in Arica, a city on the border with Peru, where 20,000 tons of toxic waste were deposited in the mid-1980s. In Ecuador, the multinational Chevron-Texaco is accused by the indigenous communities of having caused serious environmental damage in the Amazon region. Oil exploitation is at the center of what has been described as the worst ecological disaster in the history of the United States, as the spill in the Gulf of Mexico has released millions of liters of crude oil from an underwater well operated by British Petroleum.pollution is the great evil of the 21st century.


Haiti


On the other hand, the felling of trees to make charcoal, at a rate of 30 million a year, threatens to turn Haiti, which already has a forest cover of only 2%, into a desert. As a measure to counteract this problem, Paraguay implemented the "Zero Deforestation" law, which has succeeded in reducing the number of hectares logged, but it is not enough to alleviate the enormous problem. In addition to deforestation, there are other environmental catastrophes caused by pollution, especially from mining and toxic waste, as well as lack of water.


According to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), carried out by Yale and Columbia University in collaboration with the Global Economic Forum, Switzerland is an example of a country that has implemented state policies to make an efficient transition to a sustainable economy. It is a country that shows that efforts to reach a common goal necessary for the well-being of the population always pay off. Latin American countries should take this country as a great example and follow similar steps in order to overcome these environmental issues that tend to worsen the life quality of many inhabitants in the region.