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SOCIAL CONFLICT AND WATER ACCESS IN MEXICO CITY'S URBAN WATER NETWORK

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Protest has been both a practice of citizenship rights as well as a means of social pressure for change in the context of Mexico City's water system. This paper explores the role that citizen protest plays in the city's response

Protest has been both a practice of citizenship rights as well as a means of social pressure for change in the context of Mexico City's water system. This paper explores the role that citizen protest plays in the city's response to its water challenges. We use media reports of water protests to examine where protests happen and the causes associated with them. We analyze this information to illuminate socio-political issues associated with the city's water problems, such as political corruption, gentrification, as well as general power dynamics and lack of transparency between citizens, governments, and the private businesses which interact with them. We use text analysis of newspaper reports to analyze protest events in terms of the primary stimuli of water conflict, the areas within the city more prone to conflict, and the ways in which conflict and protest are used to initiate improved water management and to influence decision making to address water inequities. We found that water scarcity is the primary source of conflict, and that water scarcity is tied to new housing and commercial construction. These new constructions often disrupt water supplies and displace of minority or marginalized groups, which we denote as gentrification. The project demonstrates the intimate ties between inequities in housing and water in urban development. Key words: Conflict, protest, Mexico City, scarcity, new construction

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2017-05

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Burn, Baby, Burn: the Centralia Mine Fire

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The Centralia Council, representative of a small Pennsylvania borough, arranged for an illegal controlled burn of the Centralia landfill in late May 1962. It happened the same way every year. As Memorial Day drew closer, the Council contracted volunteer firefighters

The Centralia Council, representative of a small Pennsylvania borough, arranged for an illegal controlled burn of the Centralia landfill in late May 1962. It happened the same way every year. As Memorial Day drew closer, the Council contracted volunteer firefighters to burn the top layer of refuse in the landfill in preparation for the day’s festivities, but intentionally burning landfills violated state law. A tangle of events over the years saw the “controlled” burn develop into an underground mine fire and then into a coal seam fire. Excavation costs lie far beyond the state’s budget, and Pennsylvania plans to let the fire burn until its natural end--anticipated at another 240 years. The tangled mess of poor decisions over 21 years begs one question: did the people or the fire kill Centralia?

This paper’s field of study falls into the cross section of geology and fire science, history, social conflict, public service ethics, and collaborative failures. I explore how a series of small choices snowballed into a full, government funded relocation effort after attempts at controlling the anthracite coal seam fire failed. Geology and fire science worked in tandem during the mine fire, influencing each other and complicating the firefighting efforts. The fire itself was a unique challenge. The history of Centralia played a large role in the government and community response efforts. I use the borough and regional history to contextualize the social conflict that divided Centralia. Social conflict impaired the community’s ability to unify and form a therapeutic community, and in turn, it damaged community-government relationships. The government agencies involved in the mine fire response did their own damage to community relationships by pursuing their own interests. Agencies worried about their brand image, and politicians worried about re-election. I study how these ethical failures impacted the situation. Finally, I look at a few examples of collaborative failures on behalf of the government and the community. Over the course of my research, it became apparent the people killed Centralia, not the fire.

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2019-12

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Simulated climate impacts of Mexico City's historical urban expansion

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Urbanization, a direct consequence of land use and land cover change, is responsible for significant modification of local to regional scale climates. It is projected that the greatest urban growth of this century will occur in urban areas in the

Urbanization, a direct consequence of land use and land cover change, is responsible for significant modification of local to regional scale climates. It is projected that the greatest urban growth of this century will occur in urban areas in the developing world. In addition, there is a significant research gap in emerging nations concerning this topic. Thus, this research focuses on the assessment of climate impacts related to urbanization on the largest metropolitan area in Latin America: Mexico City.

Numerical simulations using a state-of-the-science regional climate model are utilized to address a trio of scientifically relevant questions with wide global applicability. The importance of an accurate representation of land use and land cover is first demonstrated through comparison of numerical simulations against observations. Second, the simulated effect of anthropogenic heating is quantified. Lastly, numerical simulations are performed using pre-historic scenarios of land use and land cover to examine and quantify the impact of Mexico City's urban expansion and changes in surface water features on its regional climate.

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2015