The Climate Reality Project -- Mexico City
What can change in a day? Everything. On September 14, the world will focus its attention on the truth about the climate crisis. For 24 hours, we will all live in reality. Pick a faraway place or a city near you. Make it yours for one day. We’re hitting every time zone — but only once. 7 p.m. in your time zone. Choose a location and get involved.
Mexico City is sinking. Mexico City is the largest and oldest city in North America, and in some places it’s sinking as much as 12 to 15 inches a year. With some 20 million residents, the dangerous impacts of a sinking city can’t go unnoticed.
Mexico City’s rich history dates back to the Aztecs, when it served as capital of an empire that spanned much of what is now Latin America.
Geographically, Mexico City sits within the Valley of Mexico, a highland valley surrounded by mountains. It was originally built on an island in the center of what was once Lake Texcoco. The lake was drained in the 17th Century in an effort to control flooding caused by groundwater flowing down from the surrounding mountainsides. Today, the city still sits on that soft clay lakebed, which has grown more and more unstable as the city continues to draw from it to supply its millions of residents with drinking water.
Recent extreme weather events in Mexico City, from torrential downpours to severe droughts, are wreaking havoc on this already overtaxed city. Because of the droughts and population growth, more and more water is being extracted from the water table beneath the city. As the water table lowers, the city sinks with it. As the city sinks, its sewage and wastewater tunnels start to tilt. This creates new challenges with flooding and drainage. In recent years, 23 steps were added to the base of Mexico City’s well-known Angel of Independence Monument in order to reach its base after the city had sunk around it. While Mexico City has always experienced droughts and floods, both types of extreme weather are expected to get worse as the climate changes.