Globalization And The EnviRoNMENT

The impact of globalization has put added pressure on the environment. For example, World Bank figures show that deforestation for cropping accounts for up to 20 percent of the world's global carbon emissions. Increasing trade has also encouraged fishing, destruction of forestland, and the spread of pollution to previously unrecorded levels. There are serious equity issues embedded in the treatment of the impact of these environmental issues, and the distribution of the impact.

Detractors of globalization further argue that the free trade system that is a characteristic of globalization has particular impact on the environment, because it creates a demand for and a monopoly around genetically modified products. Moreover, the trend of globalization to patent and appropriate intellectual property rights within market mechanisms causes loss of species diversity, and imposes a monoculture on the world and its environment.

Climate change is an issue that affects all societies on the planet. Global warming is a result of global agricultural and industrial processes, all of which serve to meet the needs of the global marketplace. The consequences are also global, with all regions of the world predicted to experience some form of change as a result of global warming. One of the characteristics of projected climate impacts is that the effects will not be evenly distributed. For exam ple, many developing countries such as Bangladesh that do not proportionally contribute largely to the global emissions will sustain critical problems as a result of flooding from sea level rise. Global warming has the potential to cause economic and social disruption around the globe, but the main burden of negative impacts will fall on poor developing tropical countries, while more affluent and developed countries in temperate zones will experience fewer or less severe negative impacts. Some reformers advocate a global climate agenda that ensures that global equity issues are addressed.

additional environmental problems

Other examples of global environmental problems include acid rain, the dumping of wastes in international waters, and the depletion of climatic ozone. The loss of species, biodiversity, and resources will continue to have global implications. Global institutions are working to resolve environmental problems. Many of these institutions have emerged within the umbrella of the United Nations (UN) and include agencies such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, and the UN Environment Program.

Some examples of joint commitments made in the interests of the global community include the Kyoto Protocol for Climate Change, the Montreal Convention (which dealt with ozone issues), The UN Law of the Sea (1972), and the Basel Convention (1989) that binds countries to agreements relating to the transport and disposal of hazardous wastes.

SEE ALSo: Ethics; Policy, International; United Nations; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

BIBLioGRAPHY. N. Chanda, Bound Together: How Trader, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization (Yale University Press, 2007); Erica Cudworth, Environment and Society (Routledge, 2003); D. Held, et al., Global Transformations: Politics, Economics, Culture (Cambridge Polity Press, 1999); E. Herman, "The Threat of Globalization," New Politics (v.7/26, 1999).

Melissa Nursey-Bray Australian Maritime College

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