The Dark Side of Tulum

2019, Environment  -   11 Comments
7.44
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Ratings: 7.44/10 from 41 users.

Tulum, Mexico is rich with history and natural beauty. But it's also on the verge of ecological collapse. The new documentary The Dark Side of Tulum explores the hidden plague of pollution, and what it means to the future of this popular paradise.

The first segment of the film spotlights Tulum's most notable claims to fame. Tulum is home to the world's largest underwater river, the second largest barrier reef system, and nearly 100 sites of ancient Mayan ruins. With its laid-back culture, gleaming ocean views, cavernous landscapes and plush vegetation, Tulum has become a destination of choice for tourists throughout the world. This surge in population, coupled with the greed and corruption of its representatives, has tipped the ecological balance of the peninsula to its brink.

Large patches of jungle are being demolished to make way for the 40,000 residents and 2 million annual tourists. A massive landfill stains the jungle landscape and leaks hazardous materials into the fresh water supply. Local water treatment facilities are ill-equipped to properly manage these risks. Plastic trash lines the bottom of the river. Real estate developers and other business interests continue to flood in Tulum. They push for increased construction, but work to sidestep crucial environmental regulations in the process.

The current state of the crisis is insidious - it's hiding in plain sight - and most visitors are likely to miss its warning signs. But that may change soon unless meaningful action is taken. That's why the most devoted residents hope to reverse this disturbing tide through impassioned activism. The film features interviews with a few of these concerned residents, and outlines steps that can taken to improve upon the environmental vitality of the region. These suggestions include the use of clean renewable fuels produced through waste, better waste management and water conservation efforts, stricter regulations and the resolve to enforce them with more regularity.

As the film points out, this level of environmental pollution is by no means limited to the shores of Tulum.

Beautifully photographed and informatively narrated, The Dark Side of Tulum works as both a picturesque travelogue and a cautionary tale.

Directed by: Rachel Appel

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11 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Conspiracy 2Riot

    Wow. I visited Playa del Carmen in 1995 and it was a lovely little spot...I had no idea it'd grown to over 200k w/ plans to hit 2 million in 5 years. That's insane.

    Thank you for mentioning the environmental impact of solar. I'm so tired of hearing how it and wind will change everything for the better. Neither will. The true costs from mining to manufacturing, to transit, set up, maintenance...none of these factors can even happen w/o fossil fuels and the exploitation of land and people that are out of sight of their benefactors.

    You're correct there is a fake 'Green Revolution' playing out and it is about to get a whole lot worse. While everyone is fawning over Greta Thurnburg, the people, NGO's, Gov'ts, Corporations and yes, faux green orgs, are planning the worlds largest hoax, which is to rebrand capitalism as 'sustainable' and 'green'.

    And they will be using the 100 trillion dollars in pensions to do this, while they financialize nature in what is coming to be known as the '4th industrial revolution'.

    We will have business as usual, but with a feel good face on it. And the logging, deforesting, unlimited growth and destruction of the world will be happening with most people cheering it on, because they don't understand the external costs that are hidden out of sight.

    I wish you luck in Tulum, as I wish everyone the best, but I personally have no hope we'll see the very root of the problem, which is Capitalism, tackled. As long as folks THINK the ruling class has finally 'come to it's senses', they'll carry on with their daily problems and lives and skip a mass revolt. They'll only learn too late what it's cost them.

    Which is, our entire planet.

  2. Cobyabundancewithall

    Thanks Rachel Appel
    and sorry if my following goes off a bit too far
    and thanks for all those behind the message and good intentions for Tulum and all of the world. Its a powerful message about a beautiful place of course its got its suffering and inequities, overpopulation and its to damm hot sometimes - don't forget about the mosquitoes, corruption on all levels. In fact it is a way of life this minor thievery that has become survival for some, well its inherent and we all know its much bigger with the more powerful and greedy.

    Being an old white hippy I started going down there 25 years ago and bought 4 pieces of land 15 years ago. Two of the properties have been stolen from me and the other two I'm still dreaming I'd develop into a small luxury villa for my friends to visit but I've never got very far. Maybe its all justice as I understand my kind are the root cause of much of the problems in the world - I don't really want to believe that even with hearing it every day - today the pool at the ymca was closed for women only and she directs me to #metoo...

    My hope is to get out of the artic mid-western USA freeze and burn up another shit load of fossil fuels & try another look at my dream.

    Film - I'll tell you Holistika is also one of those nice places that give a very nice cover to hundreds of hectares bought by big dark money.

    Keep of the good work and good intentions

    1. Nate

      Hello Cobyabundancewithall,

      Thanks for the post. You didn't go too far at all. I'm trying to hear more, as it is indeed hard to figure out what is "the root cause". I am doing research on the feasibility of ecological hotel development in Tulum. Have you heard of any cases that we truly successful in dealing with waste water responsibly or reducing A/C usage? I thought Holistika might have been doing a good job.

  3. Tablarasa

    Lulu......bless your heart. Only ONE problem afflicting the planet-overpopulation. ALL problems have their genesis therein.
    Obscurantist theology is a major obstacle to birth control measures.
    Doubters might view the comment from Social Internet Awareness.

  4. lulu

    this seems the story of the entire world. Too bad. Well intentioned but seems some type of calamity will have to happen for people to take notice. Over population is the issue and will continue to be...next will be Bacalar.

  5. susan moser

    Until Americans stay home and clean up our own mess, this film is part of the problem...it's ok if we privileged folks get to go...right!? ....I saw no older people, no farmers...who is really going to listen to you? You need to understand that the developers don't care...they are long gone...
    I suggest to share your beautiful home in LA with needy people and maybe not escape to the paradise that L.A. used to be....? Have you calculated the earthly demise to produce your fancy diving equipment? How about simply going without?
    How about actually physically helping with the garbage here in the U.S...?
    This mentality is why we have Trump for president...sorry...

  6. Roger Andout

    Well meaning, but ultimately utopian. Remove all humans from ecologically sensitive areas. Otherwise it's 'come one, come all', because that's the human way.

  7. Mark

    I don't understand why the government doesn't make a law, for example, banning all plastic bottles in this and other places where plastic pollution is a major problem. Make people bring refillable bottles, and sell refillable ones for those who don't . Emblazon them with something that marks them as being from Tulum, and it creates a souvenir at the same time. On another matter, it's gratifying to see that a local group has been formed to apply pressure to make the necessary changes. I hope filmmaker's goal, to save this place from further degradation and to begin reversing the damage is realized.

  8. sandra dow

    Cannot hear audio

  9. Rubentoledo.buenrostro@gmail.com

    Please explain about the acid rain in that years......?.

  10. Social Internet Awareness

    WTF , u are trying to spell negative telling lies about Mexico or Tulum , it's not true you are out of the reality ,then please ask Americans not to come here