Term Paper: Globalization and the Environment

Pages: 9 (2597 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation - Environmental Issues  ·  Buy This Paper

Globalization and the Environment

This work in writing will examine and thoroughly analyze the impact that globalization has had on the environment of the world. "Global environmental problems are increasingly important because of their impact on industrial activities, infrastructures, ecosystems, natural resources, biodiversity and human health. These problems can be managed and solved only through international cooperation, policy coordination, and voluntary, widespread, equitable participation in the decision-making process."

This work seeks to answer the questions of 1) "What importance has global networking (via the internet, etc.) played in preserving wildlife and forests?"

"How has production changed (because of globalization)?"

"How does the WTO affect the environment by rules that are imposed?"

"How has environmental activism evolved over the years with the oncoming of globalization?"

Introduction

Global environmental problems are the result of problems created by mankind as well as part of the earth's natural cyclic existence. Recent environmental problems are greenhouse emission gases, water that is unfit to drink, life in the oceans and seas are dying off as well as land animals becoming rapidly extinct. Globalization has had a very definite influence on these present conditions. Globalization is defined as "the integration of national markets through international trade and investment." (Manzella, 2002)

According to Manzella (2002) globalization "offers infinite possibilities, greater freedom and new hope for the world's poor." Although this sounds really great in theory it has not proven to be true. In fact, the "production, processing, and consumption of commodities requires the extract and use of natural resources" (Shah, 2005) such as wood, ore, fossil fuels and water; and "it requires the creation of factories and factory complexes whose operation creates toxic by- products, while the use of commodities themselves creates pollutants and waste." (Shah, 2005 citing -- Richard Robbins, Global Problem and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999, pp. 209-210) One example of this type of commodity is the automobile.

I. Sustainability: Is it Possible?

According to urban planner at the University of British Columbia, William Rees, it takes an estimated four to six hectares of land to maintain the consumption level of the average person from a high-consumption country.(Shah, 2005) However, the innate problem with this is that there only exists 1.7 hectares of land that is ecological productive for each person. The current system of "perpetual growth" contains risk such as it is:

1) Destructive in the long run to the environment

2) a contributing factor to poverty around the world.

3) a contributing factor to hunger amongst such immense wealth; and 4) Numerous other social and ecological problems. (Shah, 2005)

II. Capitalism Is Negative to the Survival of the Species

Other elements of globalization that negatively affects the world's environments are the misuse of land and resources and the exportation of pollution and waste from wealthy countries to the poorer countries of the world. The expansion of capitalism and the continuous growth and expansion has affected the environment in a negative way. With the building of houses and dwellings habitats such as wetlands and forest are destroyed along with the homes to wildlife contained in these areas. Wetlands are part of what prevents flooding and droughts in the areas which surround them. Richard H. Robbins states in his book, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism that, "In Capitalism, there are, in addition to elected leaders, capital controllers, individuals or groups who control economic resources that everyone depends on but who are accountable to virtually no one, except a few investors or stockholders. Their goals often conflict with state goals." Some of these companies move their production facilities to other areas of the world which results in the exploitation of the poor and many of them children who live in poverty and work for only a fraction of what workers in developed countries would require in wages. Furthermore these companies often harm the environment by inappropriate disposal of waste, clearing of forests and other areas.

III. Invasive Species

In a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists a threat to the environment termed "invasive species" is stated to be "quietly changing the face of our planet." In the report it is stated that these "unwitting travelers" are organism that have been moved by either "design or accident from one region of the world to another" due to the increasing globalization of our economy, with its extensive travel and shipment of goods, bring an ever-increasing number of new invasions. In the United States alone, scientists estimate that about 7,000 invasive species of plants, mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, arthropods and mollusks are established. The examples given are as follows:

The northern snakehead fish (Channa argus), an Asian native, was discovered in a lake in Maryland in 2002. Some species of snakeheads, including the northern, can move short distances across land and live out of water for three days. Officials feared this predator could move into other waterways and decimate a host of other species." (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2003) series of aquatic invaders in the Great Lakes -- including the sea lamprey, rusty crayfish, and zebra mussel -- has caused catastrophic declines in populations of native species; introduced new parasites and diseases; and changed the way ecosystems function in this, the world's largest freshwater resource." (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2003)

It is stated that these invasive species cost billions of dollars on an annual basis in damage and control measures.

IV. Forestland Habitats Destruction

Also stated by the Union of Concerned Scientist is that the world's forests are "home to more than half of all species living on land." Furthermore, forest "help slow global warming by storing and sequestering carbon" and are sources of wood products" Forests "help to regulate local and regional rainfall" and they are "crucial sources of food, medicine, clean drinking water, and immense recreational aesthetic and spiritual benefits for million of people." However the bad news is that these forests are being "rapidly cleared for agriculture or pasture, destructively logged or mined, and degraded by human-set fires. In fact, forest clearing is the number one cause of species extinction throughout the entire world. Stated by the Union of Concerned Scientists is, "The evidence that human-induced global warming is real cannot be ignored." The following facts are stated as well:

Since the beginning of the 20th century, Earth's mean surface temperature has increased by about 1.1°F (0.6°C)."

Over the last 40 years, which is the period with the most reliable data, the temperature increased by about 0.5°F (0.2-0.3°C)"

Warming in the 20th century is greater than at any time during the past 400 to 600 years." (Union of Concerned Scientists)

The following facts are linked by scientists to the global warming presently being experienced by Earth:

Seven of the 10 warmest years in the 20th century occurred in the 1990s."

Mountain glaciers the world over are receding.

The Arctic ice pack has lost about 40% of its thickness over the past four decades."

Global sea level is rising about three times faster over the past 100 years compared with the previous 3,000 years." growing number of studies show plants and animals changing their range and behavior in response to shifts in climate." (Union of Concerned Scientists)

V. Predictions: Future on Earth Not a Promising Outlook

Predictions related to global warming are stated as follows:

The warming of Earth will continue and does continue creating a growing risk of the climate changing in ways that will upset our lives in a serious manner. The globe will generally get warmer with more and more precipitation yet some regions will "experience different climatic changes, with different consequences for the local environment." Stated to be the most severe are: "a faster rise in sea level; more heat waves and droughts, resulting in more and more conflicts over water resources; more extreme weather events, producing floods and property destruction; and a greater potential for heat-related illnesses and deaths, as well as the wider spread of infectious diseases carried by insects and rodents into areas previously free from them." (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2003)

Biodiversity and Human Health Connected

According to the article entitled "The Loss of Biodiversity and Its Negative Effects on Human Health" states that earth's basic physical, chemical and biological systems depend on intertwined connections between resources and organisms..[and]..evidence shows that human impact has begun to significantly alter these basic systems and consequently cause declines in biodiversity - the measure of the total number, variety, and interdependence of all organism living in an environment."

The earth, having lost its' biodiversity will see the emergence of disease that are highly infectious and contagious. The destruction of the ecosystem will further fragment the natural controls in earths system resulting in fast-spreading diseases and the extinction of species. According to SEAM Global (2005) "The interactions of plant, animal, microbial, and non-living components of the environment maintain ecosystems that serve myriad purposes, including regulation of gas concentrations, water filtration, soil fertilization, provision of food and fuel, and regulation of global temperature and precipitations."

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