Energy and water among other emergencies | Mario Luis Fuentes

All governments constantly face multiple crises. By definition, these are situations that strain institutional capacity to solve problems arising in specific situations or that, given their structural nature, reach unsustainable levels and impede the functioning of social, economic and political life; In the most serious cases, they can create tension in other sectors and be systemic in nature.

There are, among other things, two elements of economic and social life that are essential to any modern state: water and energy. Without them, productive life, social life and daily living become almost impossible in the socio-economic context in which we live.

In this sense, the water crisis has already led to the drying up of numerous dams, lakes, rivers and streams throughout the country, which has put the so-called “zero day” in various regions, that is, they are on the verge of an acute shortage of water for human consumption, for industrial use; for use in agriculture and livestock, in the center of the country, where only 75% of houses have running water inside their buildings, and where even there only about 70% receive water every day.

According to the CONAGUA Drought Monitor, as of April 30, 2024, only 17.8% of the country was drought-free. However, 28.86% experienced severe drought and 11.37% experienced exceptional drought conditions. In terms of the political divide in our country, 79.4% of municipalities across the country are experiencing this problem to some extent in the midst of one of the worst heat waves experienced in decades, which has resulted in record high temperatures in different cities and regions.

On the other hand, regarding energy, our country, perhaps for the first time in recent history, experienced a crisis that led to the declaration of a “national interconnected system operating emergency”; which means, simply put, planned power outages due to increased energy demand due to intense hot days that are being recorded everywhere.

Although the official discourse uses the argument that “there is no shortage of energy, but rather a seasonal increase in demand”, in reality no comprehensive system should reach this level; Well, you have to be prepared for both types of contingencies.

According to official estimates, the country’s annual electricity demand has increased by about 2.2% per year; and it is estimated that it could double by 2050 if Mexico actually succeeds in taking advantage of the process of relocation of companies happening around the world.

Energy and water are inseparable agendas and must be at the heart of a renewed national strategy to reverse climate change and restore ecosystems. This is an inevitable responsibility for Mexico since, according to official data, we consume about 14% of the final energy consumed on the planet.

As one of the five most mega-diverse countries in the world, our country must, in the next 30 years, think about becoming one of the main “lungs of the planet” and one of the areas that can be considered a global sanctuary for the protection of biodiversity. But this requires a very rapid and efficient transformation of the entire energy matrix, which also involves a very accelerated transition to renewable and clean energy and a shift away from the carbon economy.

We are already a long way from the illusory “borderless economy” approach that was introduced in the 1960s. The benefits of the ruthless exploitation of nature accrued to very few, and even if they were widespread, the destruction of so many ecosystems would not be worth it, because in any case the rights of present and future generations would be jeopardized. .

It is alarming that in Mexico, in addition to strictly economic-climatic issues, ecosystem protection also faces the constant threat of organized crime. Indeed, there are at least three areas in which criminal gangs impose serious costs and limit the ability to protect nature.

The first of these is the so-called Huachicol del Agua, which is already controlled in various regions by the same gangs that steal fuel and addictive substances, weapons and even people. The damage they have caused to the country’s dams, rivers and wells has not yet been quantified, but given the value of the resource, analysis and diagnosis must go far beyond the purely economic.

The second area of ​​criminal intervention and control is illegal logging and timber trafficking, which causes damage, sometimes almost irreversible, to large swathes of forest, jungle and mangroves, in addition to serious damage to natural and even cultural heritage. peoples and indigenous communities.

The third dimension is the clearing of land and even starting forest fires to open up large areas for the planting of drugs, mainly poppy and, although to a lesser extent, various varieties of cannabis.

All these elements have points of interconnection and even mutual determination; Therefore, legal and government policy decisions must be developed based on a holistic and systemic vision.

From this perspective, the next federal administration must recognize that it will have very little room for action; and that they will be defined by several emergencies that need to be addressed as a matter of priority and urgency: violence, health, education, the climate crisis and the energy crisis. In all these areas, time has run out and action is now inevitable.

Researcher at PUED-UNAM

Source: Aristegui Noticias