Globalization and the Environmental Effects on our Planet We live on a very fortunate planet that allows the human race to not only survive on it, but also to thrive in its consistent temperatures, natural resources, and prosperous ecosystem. But the effects of globalization, pollution, global warming and other environmental problems threaten our survival as a species in this ecosystem. Many believe that through technology, commerce, and travel globalization will lead us to economic prosperity, while conservationists and scientists are working hard to preserve the priceless resources that our earth has to offer us.
The widespread changes that are brought about due to globalization have a lasting impact on our environment and threaten our survival. These global changes make understanding our world both challenging and a necessary task if our future depends understanding these concepts in all their various forms. Our ecosystems are altered by the financial decisions we make today and the energy we use, the pollutions we create will affect our lives for our children and our children’s children, if we don’t destroy ourselves by then.
Globalization is a very real phenomenon and a concept hat most people do not fully come to grasp in order to understand the ramifications of it. Globalization does not Just affect our societies economically, but also politically and socially as well. The media does an extensive Job at portraying the ideologies and opinions of globalization through politicians and activist groups, but does not accurately portray the arguments or the ever expanding inequality gap between the rich and poor and the lack of evidence to demonstrate the achievement of the “trickle down” effect.
Globalization is most commonly defined as , “the increasing nterconnectedness of people and places through converging processes of economic, political, and cultural change” (Rowntree, Lewis, Price, & Wyckoff, 2003). This means that once-distant regions and cultures are now linked together through commerce, travel, and communications causing an economic reorganization of our world’s systems. Early forms of globalization have been seen since the early years of our societies, including the first era of globalization before World War I seemed to shrink our global finance capitalism system.
The inventions of the steamship, telegrams, and ventually the telephone are all examples of the increase of globalization in our earlier societies that have had a huge impact on our political, cultural, and economic systems. But this “new era of globalization,” as mentioned by Thomas Friedman, is not only different in degree than the previous era of globalization, but is also driven differently and is increasing at a pace never witnessed before (Friedman, 2000).
Since the Industrial Revolution, many may argue that contemporary globalization is the most fundamental reorganization of the socioeconomic structure, but few agree on whether the benefits actually outweigh the costs. In previous eras, inventions such as the railroad, steamships, and automobiles increased globalization and the falling transportation costs allowed people to get to more places cheaper and faster than ever betore.
Now, the talling costs ot telecommunications allow todays era ot globalization to link the world together even tighter than before. Microchips, the internet, satellites, and cellphones allow societies and cultures of greater distances to connect quickly and cheaply in order to conduct business, form relationships, and transfer information from one geographic location to another. Travel has become aster and more cost effective, communications with other countries have become easier, and people are able to offer and exchange services globally.
This is why Friedman defines globalization as, “The inexorable integration of markets, nation- states and technologies to a degree never witnessed before- in a way that is enabling individuals, corporations and nation-states to reach around the world farther, faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before, and in a way that is enabling the world to reach into individuals, corporations and nation-states farther, faster, deeper, cheaper than ever before. (Friedman, 2000, p. 9) Not everyone has profited from economic globalization, nor have the benefits been felt equally in certain world regions.
The multitude of economic changes due to increases in communication, travel, and financial decisions have triggered fundamental cultural changes to many populations, which have threatened local cultural diversity. Globalization, especially in its economic form, is one of the most contentious issues today. Economic globalization is often applauded by those who believe that economic efficiency will result in a rising prosperity for the entire world, ut in actuality it will only largely benefit those who are already prosperous, increasing the gap between the rich and poor, all while reducing cultural and ecological diversity around the world.
Globalization is not a natural process, instead it promotes free market and export oriented economies at the expense and exploitation of localized activities and resources. The inequality between the rich and poor from this “trickle down” effect is actually increasing the percentage of poor people in most world regions. To put this into perspective, 20 percent of the world’s richest people onsume 86 percent of the world’s resources; equally the wealthiest countries have grown much richer (Rowntree, Lewis, Price, & Wyckoff, 2003).
While the richer seem to be getting richer, the poor grow more and more impoverished, with the least amount of consumption of these global resources. The poorest 80 percent use only about 14 percent of global resources, with the poorest 10 percent seeing their income decline in the past couple decades (Rowntree, Lewis, Price, & Wyckoff, 2003). Economic globalization is an unavoidable phenomenon that holds both promises and drawbacks. At certain levels, we can use globalization to reduce some economic inequalities and protect the natural environment.
In order to make globalization work for our future generations and our planet, there needs to be a kind of openness in education and social cohesion that stresses the need for strong, efficient governments that can create networks of environmental and human rights groups with government policies. With these interrelations between the 2 extremes of pro- globalization and anti-globalization wings, we can create the opportunity for profit and growth through complementary institutions, such as the government and social ssurance.
Although these economic activities seem to be the driving force behind globalization, the consequences attect every aspect ot lite and land in our day and age. Our ecosystem is affected due to the demand for natural resources as global commodities and our planet’s physical environment is at risk. As Rowntree, et al. points out, “our local ecosystems are altered by financial decisions made thousands of miles away… these activities have profound and detrimental implications for the world’s climates, oceans, and forests” (Rowntree, Lewis, Price, & Wyckoff, 2003).
Unfortunately for our global environment, the pace of destruction has worsened and our reaction to the climate crisis is much too weak if we plan on inhabiting this planet for the next 50, 60, 70+ years. Our earth is a beautiful and magnificent place for life to form and grow, but our time on this planet is not going to last much longer if we do not do something about our environmental impact on the planet’s natural resources. In a biological sense, our environment is defined as, “the complex of climatic, biotic, and social factors that acts upon an organism and determines its orm and survival” (Class lecture,week 6).
Nature is our basis of well being and the biodiversity has delcined glabally 30 percetn between 1970 and 2008. As A1 gore discusses in his book An Inconvient Truth, Many people still rely on our planet as if it is big enough to sustain our habits forever. Some still assume that the earth is so big that we could never use up all its resources. Due to globalization and population growth, we are influencing many parts of our earths environments, especially the most vulnerable, the atmosphere (Gore, 2006).
Humans see themselves as apart from ature, instead of as a part of nature. How we live, what we consume, all impacts our environment. The earth’s atmosphere is so thin that we are actually capable of changing its composition by the massive amount of carbon dioxide we have pumped into it. High income countries, much like the U. S. , have a footprint 5 times greater that that of low income coutnries, thus leading to the loss of biodiverstiy and impacting the ecosystem. (WWF Global, 2012).
The world is undergoing major changes, glacier are melting, species are on the verge of extinction, sea levels are rising, and temperatures are heating up. Global warming is a direct result of humans living in disharomony with the planet and its natural resources. We are beginning to live in a more and more human created environment causing carbon dioxide levels to increase because of the burnign of fossil fuels. The problem that we are faced with now is that every living system in our biosphere is delcining and we are a part of nature that can not afford to lose these valuable resources.
As the temperature increases all over the world, we are putting ourselves and our fellow species at risk of extinction. This begins to affect our storm systems, because the armer the oceans get the stronger the storms get. These consequences are all due to the basic understanding our earth’s atmosphere, and the most important agents, the green house gases. Due to huge quantities of human caused carbon dioxde, we are thickening this this atmopheric layer, causing the gases to trap the sun’s radiation inside and causing the planet to “heat up. (Gore, 2006). Just a suttle increase of a few degress can have a dangerous effect on our plantes ecological system. Areas around the world are experiencing undesirable amounts of rain in short periods of time, while others are facing immeasurable droughts. This shift in temperature not only causes glaciers to melt and oceans to rise, but it also disrupts migration patters, how or where certain plants grow, and the species that depend on those climates. Our ever growing demand on resources is putting an immense burden on biodiversity.
The continued provsion of ecosytem resources, our furture security, our health and well being are all in Jeapordy due to the current rate of consupmtion of non-renewable resources. According to the living planet report, as of 2012 the Earth would need 1. 5 years to produce and replenish the natural resources hat we have consumed in only a single year (WWF Global, 2012). And this number has only increased since the last report. The technology and the consumption of resources in the Unites States alone contributes to 30. 3 percent to global wamring.
That is more that South America, Canada, Africa, the Middle East, Australia , Japan, and Aoutheast Asia combined (Gore, 2006). It is no doubt that the U. S. is the biggest contributor to not only globalization, but also to the poor environmental quality of this planet. We have rightfully earned our name as the biggest polluter in the world, but it may not be too late. The first step in reducing our global footprint is by accepting and understanding the consequences our actions have on our planet’s environment and that there are ways we can reverse some of the negative impacts we have had on our planet.
We can no longer turn a blind eye to the effects we cause on our ecostyems. A1 gore proposes many solutions to how we as individuals can help this climate crisis. Considering that this problem is a vast and complicated, we can each do our part to help reduce our carbon footprint and together we can make a difference. Sacing energy at home by using energy efficient light bulbs, turning off ights when we do not need them, and heating and cooling our house efficiently are just a few ways we can help out individually.
In the communtiy, not driving so much, taking public transportation, reducing emissiones from our cars, and being conscious of our daily consumptions are all ways we can reduce pollution in our air. And most importantly consuming less, reusing water bottles, bags, buying things that last, buying local, and modifying your diet are all important changes that we can make to ensure our health for ourselves and for future generations. Globalization and our nvironmental impact are very important factors that we must always consider if we plan on existing in this environment with other species.
We are fortunate to live on a planet that can sustain life and allow it to thrive, but if we are not careful, we will use up any and all resources that Earth provides. Our consumption and the effects it has on the environment is detrimental to our survival and the survival of our ecosystems. These global changes make understanding our world both challenging and a necessary task if our future depends understanding these concepts in all their arious forms.