Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cleaner air in Mexico City

For all its experiments, the government of Mexico City has cleaned up at least one thing.

Where the air is clear: Mexico City enjoys life with less smog
I stopped in surprise a couple months ago, in early spring,  while crossing a pedestrian bridge over the roaring Periferico highway on Mexico City's westside. I looked up to see an unfamiliar white form shimmering in the distance to the east — the snow-capped Popocatepetl volcano.

For decades, this active peak rising almost 18,000 feet over Mexico's teeming capital has been mostly shrouded behind a layer of smog. Lately, though, the "Popo" peak and its twin the Iztaccihuatl volcano are peeking through the pollution, even during the current dry season, when the smog is at its worst...

[A]ir quality in the Federal District has improved markedly in the last decade. The city, governed by leftists without interruption since 1997, has implemented aggressive measures to combat air pollution, from a successful fast-lane bus system to a European-style public bike program that allows commuters to rent and drop off city bicycles at various rack stations in different locations…

While the D.F., as Mexico City is often called, may no longer carry the banner of being the world's "most polluted," the metropolitan region still has a long way to go before being entirely free of unhealthful pollutants for its 20 million residents…

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