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Ecological Dimensions of Globalization Term Paper

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2020

Introduction

Globalization refers to “the growing economic interdependence of countries through the increasing volume and variety of cross-border transactions in goods and services; international capital flows; and rapid and widespread diffusion of technology” (Ritzer 15). Globalization is mainly facilitated by advancements in transportation, communication, and information technologies, which eliminate impediments to human integration.

Globalization promotes rapid economic development in various parts of the world through free trade and technological transfers. However, rapid economic growth and market integration have led to high competition for scarce resources and pollution across the globe. Consequently, environmental degradation is one of the major negative externalities of globalization. This paper will present a discussion on the ecological effects of globalization. It will also shed light on the factors that are likely to worsen the impacts of globalization on the environment. Finally, it will present recommendations for reducing the negative ecological effects of globalization.

Ecological Impacts of Globalization

Globalization facilitates environmental conservation by promoting efficient use of natural resources and increasing awareness concerning environmental degradation. Advancements in communication technologies have enabled people in different parts of the world to share information concerning strategies for reducing environmental pollution (Hamilton 42). In addition, multinational corporations promote the invention and diffusion of new technologies that minimize the adverse effects of human activities on the environment. This involves conducting research in order to develop new technologies that reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and disposal of toxic substances into the ambient environment. For example, hybrid cars that are produced in developed countries are currently being used in various parts of the world to reduce carbon dioxide emission.

Despite this positive impact, globalization has also led to serious negative ecological effects through export-oriented destruction of the environment. The main negative ecological effects include the following. First, globalization leads to overuse of resources in various parts of the world. In particular, it has increased the demand for various natural resources such as minerals, timber, land, fossil fuels among others (Opdebeeck 111-120).

These resources are increasingly being used to sustain economic growth in both developed and developing countries. However, the uncontrolled extraction of these resources destroys the environment. For instance, increased use of timber in construction and manufacturing of furniture has led to high deforestation, especially, in developing countries. Approximately, eleven million acres of trees are cut every year for commercial purposes (Maslin 36). This leads to expansion of deserts and destruction of the habitats of the animals that live in forests.

Globalization has also led to over-fishing in oceans as countries open-up their fisheries to international firms. Similarly, high demand for minerals in developed countries has led to over-mining in developing countries (Bevan and Gitsham 435-447). Research shows that the negative effects of resource overuse in one country are likely to be felt in other countries. For example, increased desertification in one country due to deforestation can lead to powerful dust storms, which pollute the air and cause respiratory diseases in neighboring countries. In addition, activities such as copper mining lead to pollution of water bodies such as rivers that are shared by several countries.

Second, globalization accelerates global warming (Maslin 13). Global warming refers to the gradual rise in the temperature of the atmosphere of the earth. It mainly occurs due to the increase in the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases include carbon dioxide, water vapor, and ozone among others. The emission of greenhouse gases is mainly caused by the use of fossil fuels in factories and cross-border transportation of goods. Industrial production and transportation activities account for nearly 25% and 30% of carbon dioxide emission respectively in the world (Maslin 47).

Global warming is undesirable because it leads to climate change, rising sea level, and frequent occurrence of natural catastrophes such as high-intensity hurricanes and storms. Regardless of their levels of greenhouse gas emissions, nearly all countries experience reduced agricultural production due to climate change. Moreover, extreme climatic conditions often cause the extinction of various plant and animal species. Coastal regions are increasingly facing the risk of being submerged as the sea level rises due to global warming. In this regard, the massive destruction of property in various coastal regions around the world is likely to occur in the future. In addition, coastal populations are likely to be forced to move inland, thereby increasing competition for land.

Third, globalization is one of the major causes of trans-boundary pollution of air, land, and water. Air pollution mainly occurs through the emission of toxic gases such as sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere (Maslin 66). These gases usually move from the countries in which they are produced to other countries through strong winds. In the last three decades, several developed countries have focused on buying land in developing countries to dispose of their solid wastes and toxic chemicals (Opdebeeck 111-120).

This leads to high pollution of large pieces of land in developing countries. Additionally, pollution leads to increased accumulation of toxic substances in the crops that are produced in the polluted areas. This leads to poor health, especially, if the crops are used for human consumption. Reduced regulation of international water bodies has also led to an increase in the disposal of wastes and toxic substances in the high seas. The resulting increase in water pollution negatively affects the maritime and coastal biodiversity. For example, coral reefs have been destroyed in various oceans, thereby causing the extinction of several maritime plant and animal species and a decline in the stock of fish.

Finally, the negative ecological effects of globalization contribute to reduced agricultural production. This decline mainly occurs through climate change, an increase in pathogens, and introduction of exotic crop species (Maslin 51). As stated earlier, globalization leads to global warming, which in turn causes adverse climatic conditions. These include insufficient rainfall, extreme temperatures, floods, and strong winds among others. These conditions are unfavorable for agricultural production because they lead to the destruction of crops. Globalization has also facilitated the introduction of exotic plant and animal species in various countries.

The resulting increase in invasive species and pathogens cause massive and expensive destruction to various crops. Global warming, pollution, and climate change are trans-boundary environmental problems whose effects are felt in more than one country (Maslin 68). However, their effects tend to be more severe in developing countries than in developed countries. This is because developing countries lack the funds and technologies to adapt to the effects of trans-boundary environmental problems. Moreover, most developing countries depend on agriculture, which is often affected negatively by trans-boundary environmental problems.

Concerns for Future Environmental Degradation

The factors that are likely to worsen the ecological effects of globalization in the future include rapid population growth and urbanization. The population of humankind is increasing at a steady rate of 1.17% annually or approximately 60 million people per year (Hamilton 112). Under globalization, a rapid increase in population will increase the movement of goods and people from one region to another. In this regard, increased transportation activities will result in high emission of greenhouse gases and global warming. Moreover, rapid population growth will increase the demand for food, as well as, the raw materials that are used to manufacture various consumer goods. In this case, environmental degradation will occur through overuse of natural resources such as fossil fuels.

Over 60% of the world population is expected to live in urban areas by 2030. The urban population is expected to reach 6.3 billion people by 2050 (Hamilton 116). Consequently, providing adequate food, shelter, health care, and infrastructure for the urban population is expected to increase the demand for scarce natural resources. For example, deforestation is expected to increase as land use shifts from forestry to real estate development in order to provide adequate housing for the urban population. Moreover, the accumulation of wastes in urban areas is likely to rise, thereby causing increased environmental degradation.

Recommendations

The following recommendations can be adopted in order to reduce the ecological impacts of globalization. First, a global environmental governance system (organization) should be established to manage the environment. In particular, the system should adopt a federal form of governance by being in charge of decision-making, capacity building, regulation, and harmonization of environmental policies or laws at the global level (Opdebeeck 111-120). Apart from formulating and enforcing environmental laws, the global governance system should provide financial and technical support to developing countries so that they can adapt easily to the ecological impacts of globalization. A global governance system will ensure that international environmental laws are observed by all countries. In addition, it will be possible to hold heavy polluters responsible for trans-boundary pollution.

Second, there should be a change of cultural and religious values that influence people’s views concerning their environment (Bevan and Gitsham 435-447). Concisely, people must view their natural environment as a limited resource that must be preserved in order to ensure sustainable development. Consequently, extreme capitalism and overexploitation of natural resources should be avoided. Finally, various countries should focus on using energy-efficient technologies in transportation and industrial production in order to reduce pollution. Moreover, social change should focus on the development of green cities and the reduction of population growth in order to prevent environmental degradation.

Conclusion

The aim of this paper was to highlight the ecological impacts of globalization. Generally, the negative environmental effects of globalization exceed the positive ones. The negative effects include global warming, climate change, reduced agricultural production, and increased pollution. However, globalization has also led to the diffusion of the technologies that promote environmental conservation. The ecological effects of globalization are difficult to manage because they transcend the boundaries of individual countries. In this regard, the negative effects of globalization on the environment should be addressed by a global organization that not only enforces environmental laws but also manages natural resources. Also, individuals in various parts of the world should adopt values that promote environmental protection.

Works Cited

Bevan, David and Matthew Gitsham. “Context, Complexity and Connenctedness: Dimensions of Globalization Revealed.” Corporate Governance 9.4 (2009): 435-447. Print.

Hamilton, Sara. Globalization. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2008. Print.

Maslin, Mark. Global Warming: Causes, Effects, and the Future. London: Palgrave, 2007. Print.

Opdebeeck, Hendrik. “Responsibility in a Globalized Environment: A Charter of Human Responsibilities.” Journal of Global Responsibility 3.1 (2012): 111-120. Print.

Ritzer, George. Globalization: The Essentials. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print.

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