Around the world, environmental activists are being murdered at an increasing rate. The victims include those who are specifically environmental activists, park rangers, or indigenous leaders.
In Honduras, coastlines are suffocating under the overwhelming amount of trash which has been arriving relentlessly with the tides. Unlike the various bottles and wrappers that occasionally wash up on the busy beaches frequented in the U.S., the phenomenon, which has particularly rocked the ecosystem of the Honduran island of Roatan, is better described as a wall of trash; it spans several kilometers and extends seven meters below the surface of the water (Sanchez 2017).
On Friday, October 2017, troops and federal police were deployed after several government and environmental agency buildings were set on fire by hundreds of armed men in the town of Humaíta in the Brazilian Amazon.
The Amazonian and Andean regions of South America are home to some of the richest biodiversity on the planet. Of the top ten ‘megadiverse’ countries in the world, six are in Central/South America. Four of these countries house part of the Andes, and five house part of the Amazon rainforest (Hyatt 2014).
Early in the morning of April 1 in the town of Mocoa in southern Colombia, hundreds were killed in a landslide that swept away entire neighborhoods after a nearby river flooded due to unusually heavy rains. Officials say that climate change and deforestation played a role in the disaster, and tie it to other recent landslides in surrounding areas that have caused comparable casualties.
The Communications and Transport Secretary in Mexico has proposed a regional rail project, the Tren-Transpeninsular (TTP), to connect major beach resort areas and several major archeological sites in the Yucatan Peninsula. The capstone class is working with a local non-profit in Mexico, Foro para el Desarrollo Sustentable, who has been hired to conduct a preliminary assessment of the potential social impacts of the TTP.
Among the many controversial interactions the US has had with Latin American countries, perhaps one of the most dangerous is the US relationship with meat producers in South America. The US is the highest consumer of meat in the world, with the average American consuming 101 pounds of meat each year, a number which has quadrupled since the 1960s. While the US is still the largest producer of meat in the world, countries such as Argentina and Brazil are closing the gap.
Hurricane Patricia, a storm that formed off the western coast of Mexico, was the strongest recorded hurricane in history. Winds were recorded at 165 miles per hour while the storm was gaining strength at sea near the many resort towns on the western coast, such as Puerto Vallarta. Thanks to the the evacuations aided by the government, many people were spared from the storm when it touched down.