This paper delves into the topic of globalization and delves into the positive and negative impacts it has had on human health, society, individuals and the environment. Through this paper, a greater understanding of globalization can be developed, resulting in a better and more informed opinion regarding its advantages and pitfalls.
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Globalization can be defined via its assortment of activities that encompasses not only an integration of global financial markets but also the integration of regional and local supply chains into a purposeful whole that allows companies to source and manufacture products in nearly all countries in the world (Leman, 2006). Such a system is bolstered through the use of an interconnected system of communication via the internet and traditional methods of telecommunications which allows a seamless transition of information from one communication terminal to another (ex: email, texting, calling, etc.).
From an economic development standpoint, globalization has been a boon to the global economy resulting in the expansion of local and regional markets to encompass a global consumer base. Some of the advantages of globalization come in the form of the global network of supply chains that enables an assortment of products, whether agrarian or technological in nature, to be shipped to various ports around the world (Leman, 2006).
In essence, nearly everything from the food that a person eats on their table to the furniture that they are sitting on and even the very cement and wood that their house is built of is a product of globalization. In short, globalization has helped to shape the modern world as we know it by making it far easier to travel, communicate and feed populations. On the other hand, globalization does also come with several disadvantages that call into question whether it has actually been beneficial towards human development as a whole (Colón, 2009). For one thing, in order to satisfy current market demands placed on it by an interconnected human populace, globalization has resulted in the proliferation of factories, fossil fuel power plants and other sources of pollution which has drastically impacted the current state of the Earth’s climate (Leman, 2006).
Rampant consumerism brought about through easy access to resources has created a trend in resource depletion wherein human populations consume environmental resources faster than they can be naturally replenished (ex: the dwindling population of fish in the sea). The end result has been a steady deterioration of our natural environment which could bring about the end of human existence if nothing is done about it. Based on an assessment of globalization as a whole, it is the opinion of this paper that despite the drawbacks associated with it, globalization has created far more beneficial outcomes for humanity than negative effects.
Advantages of Globalization
When it comes to the topic of human health, it is important to take into consideration two factors, namely the price of nutritional food and the ability of hospitals to import needed medications. First and foremost, what must be understood is that in order to be healthy, the human body needs a considerable amount of varied nutrients from an assortment of different types of food. The problem though with some forms of locally produced food is that it is at times far too expensive (as seen in the case of Japan) or there is a lack of sufficiently fertile land in order to produce enough food for the local population (ex: Singapore).
This is where globalization enters the picture wherein through a system of supply chains; affordable food can be brought in from countries that specialize in agricultural production. This enables people in various parts of the world to have a diversified and nutritious diet that is within an affordable price range for them. It should also be noted that globalization plays a key role in the import and export of various vaccines, medicines and medical devices that help hospitals and governments in immunizing local populations as well as treating an assortment of illnesses (Pinto Dias, 2013).
Society and Individuals
One of the benefits of globalization that has positively affected societies and individuals, in general, is the sheer level of interconnectedness that has been brought about through the current global telecommunication system. Manifesting itself through aspects such as the internet, mobile phones and even basic landline devices, people within the current modern age are far more interconnected than they once were (Hualupmomi, 2010).
Through globalization, people from far-distant corners of the world can talk, interact and do business without having to be in the same room. As a result, this has spread concepts related to multiculturalism, created multinational corporations and has effectively allowed businesses to control their assets no matter where they may be in the world. When it comes to individuals, the boon in communications has enabled people to stay in touch with their relatives and friend wherever they may be. This has in effect encouraged people to travel and move to distant locations since despite the sheer amount of miles involves in such an endeavour, they are merely a phone call away from their friends and family (Hualupmomi, 2010).
While it is not immediately obvious, globalization has actually contributed positively to the environment. Due to the current demand for paper and wood-based products, it used to be the case that corporations had to cut down forests in order to keep up with the demand. The problem with such a business model is that it is unsustainable in the long term, given the finite amount of trees in the world. In order to keep up with demand while at the same time practice methods of sustainability, the corporate has developed new methods of logging utilizing new methods wherein they plant trees at the present so that they can harvest it in the future (Colón, 2009).
Such a method of production contributes to the environment since it helps to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. From this perspective, globalization has actually contributed towards helping in reducing global warming since it helps to reduce the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that is produced by factories, cars and other aspects of present-day industrial practices.
Disadvantages of Globalization
There are two specific problems in relation to human health that globalization has contributed to, namely the sheer amount of pollutants in the air and water that has adversely impacted numerous population centres as well as the spread of disease due to the interconnected nature of modern-day transportation networks. Due to rapid industrialization and the spread of factories and fossil-fueled power plants, pollution levels are at an all-time high (Pinto Dias, 2013).
As seen in the case of India and China, which are two of the world’s largest centres of manufacturing and production, the sheer amount of factories has contributed to the rise in air particulates (i.e. miniscule particles of polluted dirt) which has been connected to the rise in lung-related diseases in these countries.
Furthermore, in the case of Australia and the town of Lithgow, it was noted that the particulates and trace amounts of base metals in the water that came from a nearby fossil fuel power plant was responsible for the proliferation of cancer and lung-related disease in the town which was shown to be 70% above the norm in Australia. Unfortunately, as seen in the case of China and India, the places that are responsible for the pollutants are not being shut down since they contribute positively towards the continued progress of the local economy (Pinto Dias, 2013).
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Society and Individuals
When it comes to the negative effects globalization has had on society and individuals, one of the most obvious detrimental aspects is the concept of identity theft and how it can cause a considerable amount of problems for a person. Due to the sheer amount of people utilizing the global banking system at any one time, identities tend to be represented through the use of a series of numbers that are associated with a person and their account.
This can be seen in the numbers of a credit card, a person’s social security numbers and other aspects of their identity in digitized form. Should someone gain access to such records and replicate them, they could in effect impersonate their owner. Identity theft within countries such as the U.S. often results in millions of dollars lost per year due to records being illegally accessed with the perpetrators using the information to make purchases online or through fake credit cards (Gelfand, Lyons & Lun, 2011). This is one of the problems with globalization at the present since people have in effect become nothing more than statistics with a series of numbers being the means by which they are identified in the current system.
The most obvious detrimental impact of globalization is the sheer amount of pollutants that have been released into the atmosphere. Based on the analysis of Pinto Dias (2013), a correlation was shown between the rise in the number of factories and industrial complexes with the increase in erratic weather patterns that the world has been experiencing. Pinto Dias explains that as more pollutants are released within the Earth’s atmosphere, this has the effect of trapping more heat from the sun instead of having it released out into space. As a result, this alters normal weather patterns resulting in stronger storms in some areas while precipitating droughts in others. Present-day natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Haiyan were far stronger than what present-day infrastructure limits could handle and shows how vulnerable human society is at present to stronger storms.
Based on an assessment of globalization as a whole, it is the opinion of this paper that despite the drawbacks associated with it, globalization has created far more beneficial outcomes for humanity than negative effects. Despite the proliferation of factories, fossil fuel power plants and other sources of pollution which has drastically impacted the current state of the Earth’s climate, globalization is basically responsible for all the modern-day comforts that we enjoy today. While it is true that the easy access to resources has created a trend in resource depletion wherein human populations consume environmental resources faster than they can be naturally replenished, the fact remains that we are learning from our mistakes and have begun to focus more on environmentally sustainable means of production.
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Gelfand, M. J., Lyons, S. L., & Lun, J. (2011). Toward a Psychological Science of Globalization. Journal Of Social Issues, 67(4), 841-853. Web.
Hualupmomi, F. (2010). The Impact of Globalization on Small Island Developing Economies: A PNG Perspective. Contemporary PNG Studies, 1229-48. Web.
Leman, A. B. (2006). Globalization: Positive and negative issues. Ekistics, 73(436-441), 62. Web.
Pinto Dias, J. (2013). Human Chagas Disease and Migration in the Context of Globalization: Some Particular Aspects. Journal Of Tropical Medicine (16879686), 1-9. Web.