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Geopolitics

Arsenic In The Water Leaves Its Traces Among Mexico's Poor

In northern Mexico's Comarca Lagunera region, rising arsenic levels in the groundwater are leaving many residents sick and disabled. The culprit? Widespread dairy farming, which is sucking the area's aquifers dry. Those who can'

Be careful not to drink the water (andresmh)
Be careful not to drink the water (andresmh)
Frédéric Saliba

TORREONDespite the suffocating desert heat, Juan Jaquez Muñoz shivers under his covers. In his old house in the small village of Horizonte, in the North of Mexico, this villager has been stuck in bed since his left leg was amputated a month earlier. "The arsenic in the water poisoned me," says Jaquez Muñoz, who is 66 but looks two decades older.

The man's plight is hardly an isolated case. Residents throughout the region of Comarca Lagunera, between the states of Durango and Coahuila, are threatened by the toxic substance, which is present in the aquifers. The region is the country's principle milk producer, and agricultural over-exploitation of the underground water resources is blamed for the arsenic in the water.

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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