Term Paper: Globalization Global Challenge Study Deforestation of Madagascar

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¶ … Globalization on Madagascar

Just as the 20th century was clearly distinguished by the rapid industrialization of urban centers, with cities developing around factories, mills, and other outlets for manufacturing and trade, the 21st century is likely to be defined as the era of collaborative globalization, with the advent of the internet connecting the planet through instantaneous communication. Globalization has come to describe the unprecedented exchange of cultural capital provided by the internet's rise to ubiquitous status in societies around the world, with an emphasis on the increase in international trade and commerce which has been created. As defined by Conrad Phillip Kottak in his primer on the anthropological implications of globalization, the term is best defined as "the process of integration of the world's peoples economically, socially, politically, and culturally into a single world system of community" (439). Practices such as outsourcing, insourcing, offshore operations, and other controversial consequences of globalization have garnered attention from both the private sector and public servants alike, with economists and financial analysts reaching competing opinions regarding their relative efficacy and social worth. In a pair of groundbreaking analyses on the phenomenon of globalization, the Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization and the World is Flat, respected economist Thomas L. Friedman writes with eloquent expertise to pen a bestselling analysis of globalization, and its ability to level the proverbial playing field in terms of commerce and competition for better or worse.

One of the fundamental premises underlying Friedman's progressive conception of globalization was based on the author's exhaustive quest to document the entirety of the multinational manufacturing process used to create his own Dell laptop, including an incredible inventory listing the dozens of individual nations which contributed parts and labor to the process. The resulting web of interdependence involved in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of this simple supply chain inspired Friedman to coin the phrase "Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention," which stipulates that "no two countries that are both part of a global supply chain, like Dell's, will ever fight a war against each other as long as they are both part of the same global supply chain" (524). Friedman's experiment in sourcing the construction of product considered ubiquitous in Western culture revealed that relatively unknown nations with minor industrial capabilities such as Madagascar play an integral role in the global supply chain. This represents a novel reinterpretation of the classic World-Systems Theory, a model of global stratification first postulated by sociologist and thinker Immanuel Wallerstein, which holds that the world is comprised of an interlocking global political economy designed to redistribute resources from the periphery to the core (Kottak 357). According to the fundamental precepts of World-Systems Theory, the world has been divided into core countries, semi-periphery countries, and periphery countries, with a small group of dominant core countries imposing their global hegemony on periphery counties by virtue of highly industrialized economies, extensive military presence, and strong centralized governments, while semi-periphery countries remain in transition between endemic poverty and eventual prosperity.

The small island nation of Madagascar is emblematic of Wallerstein's conception of the periphery country, as the former French colony and fourth-largest island in the world has been consistently ranked as a periphery nation, along with 35 other nations, by several independent sociological studies during the last three decades (Babones & Alvarez-Rivadulla 14). Due to a confluence of tumultuous historical circumstances and geopolitical transition, the island of Madagascar endured nearly a century of colonial rule, and despite the presence of many natural resources, the country has traditionally been bound by substandard infrastructure capabilities and an inability to properly exploit nature's bounty. Nonetheless, the advent of globalization has spurred many natives of Madagascar to emulate their core country colonizers, through the rapid industrialization of the currently independent republic's economic system. In addition to the financial incentive afforded by the insatiable global demand for raw timber, Madagascar's extremely rapid rate of deforestation in the era of globalization has been exacerbated by the country's continued reliance on charcoal as its primary fuel source, the spread of coffee plantations as the cash-crop became industrialized. One of the most rigorous and comprehensive research studies devoted to the subject, entitled Fifty Years of Deforestation and Forest Fragmentation in Madagascar, concludes that "from the 1950s to 2000, the area of 'core forest' (forest >1 km from a nonforest edge) decreased from >90,000 km2 to <20,000 km2 ... (while) the area in patches of >100 km2 decreased by more than half," representing a 40% reduction in 'core forest' and an 80% occurrence of thinning in the remaining forest (Harper 330). Today, less than 10% of Madagascar's original forest cover has been destroyed, through a combination of traditional slash-and-burn farming methods and modernized clear-cutting operations managed by foreign conglomerates. In order to fully comprehend the consequences of Madagascar's globalization-fueled destruction of its ancient tropical rainforests, however, it is important to develop a deeper understanding of the essential role that this fragile ecosystem plays in ensuring the entire planet's system of environmental equilibrium.

There is perhaps no richer assortment of life on the planet than that found in a tropical rainforest ecosystem, which can be found throughout the equatorial zones of South and Central America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and many of the world's island chains. Typified by monthly average temperatures of over 64 degrees Fahrenheit and at least 66 inches of rainfall annually, the warm and wet conditions of the tropical rainforest ecosystem combine with relative isolation to create the most abundant source of life on Earth. Despite its relatively small size, the isolated island of Madagascar has historically been home to many of the planet's most pristine and preserved tropical rainforests, comprising much of the nation's eastern coastal regions. Research on the incredible biodiversity found in tropical rainforests has revealed the astonishing depth of this ecosystem's biotic structure, with the average hectare of land containing over 42,000 species of insect, 1,500 varieties of higher plants, and more than 300 types of trees (Newman, 42). An examination of the biotic and abiotic structure of Madagascar's rainforests, including the cycle of disturbance and recovery which occurs in the wake of human intrusion, can be used to determine this ecosystem's overall function within the planet's biological balancing act.

Due to the advent of industrialized agriculture during the decades defined by globalization, the tropical rainforests of Madagascar have experienced significant manmade disturbances to their natural equilibrium. Research on the worldwide deterioration of Earth's most precious ecosystem has concluded that "the enormous human pressures currently faced by the forest ... including timber extraction, slash-and-burn migration agriculture, fuelwood collection, cattle raising, mining, and pollution" (Newman, 112) have eradicated thousands of species of plants and animals, while severely disrupting global carbon and nitrogen cycles throughout the entirety of Madagascar. Although the world's tropical rainforests have always experienced natural disturbances, in the form of wildfires or inland flooding, the cycle of recovery during these disasters has been calibrated to ensure the ecosystem's rapid redevelopment and recovery. The theory of secondary succession allows for tropical rainforests to experience regular wildfires and flooding without losing the soil structure, seed content, and nutrient levels necessary to sustain the regrowth of plants and the reemergence of animals. The manmade disturbances described above, however, have caused permanent damage to the fundamental structure of Madagascar's previously untouched rainforests, threatening to delay and disrupt secondary succession from occurring through natural processes.

The indisputable fact that tropical rainforests are vital to the planet's process of ensuring habitability for humanity has not stopped society, in both core countries and periphery countries, from wantonly destroying them on a scale that has been significantly accelerated by industrialized processes. According to the World-Systems Theory first advocated by Wallerstein in his seminal treatise World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction, this phenomenon of counterproductive action during the procurement of immediate gain is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Globalization Global Challenge Study Deforestation of Madagascar.  (2013, April 21).  Retrieved April 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/globalization-global-challenge-study/6952516

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