The present era is said to be an age of globalization. Globalization is a broad term and encompasses varied perspectives. It refers to the global outlook of different nations of the world coming closer and joining hands in terms of economy, education, society and politics. Globalization empowers a view for the entire world as a whole irrespective of the national identity and thus globalization has narrowed the world by bringing people of all nations closer (What is globalization?).
Enabling people of one nation to communicate with those of the other nation(s) is the biggest achievement in terms of globalization and development. The culture, trade, business, ethics and conduct of one group in one part of the world can influence others may or may not be of same nation. It is irrespective of the time and space and language bindings as these communications are in terms of trade, social internet forums. The process of globalization is therefore, an amalgamation of interaction and integration among different groups of people, various organizations and governments of different nations. This communication is supported by information technology (What is globalization?). The interaction not only influences people and their welfare in terms of civilization, traditions, political structure, financial growth and affluences but also affects the environment as a whole (What is globalization?).
Gradually globalization has defined its terminologies in all aspects of human civilization by making the countries formulate to the policies for open economies both, domestically and internationally (What is globalization?). With the implementation of free market economic systems, path is paved for mounting their own industrious potentials and creating multitude openings for international trade and investment. This served as an opportunity for the foreign markets, factories, production and marketing measures with people belonging to different parts of the world (What is globalization?).
The view about globalization emerged as-
- Economic Integration through trade, investment and capital flows
- Political Interaction
- Information and Information Technology (IT)
These are the various magnitudes of globalization affecting the natural, local, national and finally the global environment. It directly influences human development (Panayotou, 2000). An outline is drawn to study the globalization and the environment encompassing economic proportions of trade, investment and capital flows (Panayotou, 2000).
It is evident that regardless of its mounting strength, the side-effects of globalization and economic trends are inadequately understood as these effects are not straight but are indirect. The growing concern for the environment and its protection has given least emphasis on the prevalence of inexorable globalization (Ehrenfeld, 2003). Globalization is multiplying with such a rapid pace that its consequences are being experienced by the smallest and secluded communities and natural areas may it be a developed or an undeveloped nation. It is evident that despite its insightful impact on the environment, globalization is going to have its say (Ehrenfeld, 2003). The present article therefore signifies the impact of globalization on the environment as a whole may it be natural, social, local, national and lastly global.
Globalization has tremendously affected world in various different aspects
1. Industrial- it has provided the surface to the production market with an enhanced access to a wide variety of foreign products and therefore globalization has increased large number of customers for itself. This has helped in the movement of goods and materials between and within the national boundaries.
2. Financial- Globalization has opened the way to procure external financing opportunities to the borrowers.
3. Economic- the freedom of exchange of goods and capitals tells us that the markets are interrelated and any kind of economic collapse in one country could be manged by others.
4. Political- the United States has come up with the supreme power in the era of globalization as it has strong and wealthy economy. Also in the recent decade the People’s Republic of China has skilled with great economic growth.
5. Informational- flow of information from one part of the globe to another and even to the remote locations, through satellites, wireless communication or through internet.
6. Competition- globalization has given birth to tremendous competition and has made the market an open place to excel with skills and quality.
7. Ecological- the most neglected part after globalization; it is inadequately affected because of the climate changes that are occurring due to pollution made by the industrial set up. The areas around the industries are becoming slums and the waste released from the industries is affecting the flora and fauna of the domain. It is forcing the inhabitants to inhale polluted and obnoxious air which not only contains high of carbon-di-oxide but also contains methane, halogen gases and various other particulates responsible for altering the physiology of the inhabitants. Altered physiology becomes the leading cause of ill-health causing hypertension, diabetes and may lead to cancer can be as lethal to generate neonatal teratogenesis.
8. Cultural- Cross-cultural contacts are the result of globalization. It has generated better understanding towards cultural diversity and has promoted travels and tourism to understand each other to a greater extent. This has enhanced greater consumer products at the same time it has generated a pseudo-cultural patterns.
9. Social- due to globalization the social network of people is widening and people are able to understand each other in a better way howsoever distant geographically they may be.
10. Technical- Any kind of technological advances can be communicated to other parts of the world and thus feedback to further enhance it can be procured.
11. Legal or Ethical- the guidelines are laid down for any kind of legal issues; international criminal court and international justice movements (Nijam, A., Runnalls, D., Halle, M., 2007)
Effects of Globalization on our Environment
Reduced Genetic Diversity in Agriculture- a cutback is observed in genetic diversity in the field of agriculture. It was recognized that loss of non-hybrid germplasm has taken place for vegetables, grains and tree crops because of the arrival of new commercial varieties of seeds. This has affected the local farmers to plummet the affluence of existing varieties to promote new and commercial ‘high yielding” seeds (Ramprasad, 2002). In the similar manner globalization has affected wild varieties also. The wild varieties are known for its gene pool for disease resistance and various environmental adaptations and also for its food value. Due to globalization, development, logging and conversion of marginal lands for enhancing production the local agriculture environment is badly affected (Ehrenfeld, 2003).
This has also affected the livestock breeds pushing them towards the extinction (Hall and Ruane, 1993). It is also manifested that globalization has paved the way for the loss of particular domestic livestock. Aristide, (2000) has focused on the kill of local Haiti’s Creole pigs, requiring very low maintenance in order to replace them with pigs from Iowa (USA) to promote the success of the project; but the project failed.
There are many projects which are formulated in each and every field of human endeavor for the promotion of globalization but only a few attains success, incurring tremendous loss of natural resources, vegetation and harm to the natural environment.
Loss of wild species: it’s a common observation that most of the wild varieties are facing danger of extinction due to global trade, global extension and with approaching new technologies and to meet the arising demands. The natural areas are rapidly turning to concrete plantation, to enhance production, building road, dams, mining, power plants, causing loss of species which were known to be the natives of that geographical domain. This is further contributed by the drastically growing human population (Ehrenfeld, 2002). These are the direct implication on the livestock but other indirect impacts encompass, pollution from production agriculture, vehicles coming to the area, additional requirement of electricity, waste from nuclear plants causing changes in the local climate due to liberation of various chemicals from industrial set up also liberation of toxic wastes, gases like carbon-di-oxide, methane, fluorocarbons drastically affect the local natural environment. Development of ecotourism-based industries and also the escalating demands and cut-throat competition to capture the market has lead to the loss of wild life (Ehrenfeld, 2003). It is evident that with the onset of globalization, the wild- life human contact is becoming the source of various new diseases; one of the biggest e.g. is of HIV and out breaks of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Alexander, 2002).
Environmental Costs of Globalization
This encompasses the deterioration of the quality of natural resources including- water, air and soil. It is also causing depletion of natural resources both renewable and non-renewable resources. Pollution of the environment is attributed to the increase in industries, burning of fossil fuels to run the industries, machines and for transport of both raw and finished products to different places. The protective and custom laws re also regulating the environment, contributing to the impact of globalization. According to Yu et al (2002) “A country importing dirty products essentially leaks its pollution to exporting countries that have less strict standards.’ Also, ” the conflict between trade and environment arises because countries with weak property rights appear to be more productive even when they are not, and export their natural resources unsustainably.’ The economists running World Trade Organization (WTO) show problems in running General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which is made to safeguard exhaustible natural resources and protect human, animal or plant life or health (Yu et al, 2002).
It was further emphasized that scientist must come forward to pressure the considerations of the WTO by affording definite scientific evidence of environmental harm.
One of the other consequences of globalization is the transport of heavy, minimally processed food products are made available in excess to the area where they were already available. This not only puts pressure on the local manufacturers but also pressurize their psychology to produce more products to cope with the competition (Yu, 2002).
Globalization is extending the gap between the rich and poor communities and also between the nations causing regional insecurity and a fear of exhaustion and extinction of resources and shift of manpower from less developed to more developed geographical area. Growing demands have also made people to grow rich by adopting unfair means leading to dissolution of families and communities, health and also in education. This has given rise to regional wars and international terrorism, crippling and self-criticism (Ehrenfeld, 2003).
The world is becoming materialistic and hence humane of human spirits is lost causing loss of environmental wisdoms (Ehrenfeld, 2003).
Globalization has also revolutionized Plastic Industry: its repercussions on Environment
The advent of plastic has revolutionized the packaging industries. It is becoming the major toxic pollutants of the present era. It has the potential to pollute nature and all the natural resources including air, water and soil. It is a non-biodegradable product causing grave damage to our natural environment (Plastic Problems). Globalization encourages the distribution of goods from one part of the globe to another and this requires appropriate packaging to keep the products protected and in perfect consistency, discovery of plastic and its products has turned out to be a boon for pushing the globalization to its present form. The economic traders have given a least ear to this noxious substance which is now becoming a choking hazard of drainages and pipelines of the streets. This is a serious environmental concern as it leads to the situation of over flooded roads with water may it be rain water or else it is coming through the choked water pipeline. It causes serious traffic jams over the roads when the roads are flooded with water moreover; choked drains provide tremendous breeding grounds for disease-causing mosquitoes (Plastic Problems).
Altered Genetic Makeup and Mutation
Due to globalization, and industrialization, various effluents are released in the atmosphere altering the proportion of natural gases. It is evident that these gases are harmful to the inhabitants of the area. Some of these gases are capable of altering the genetic makeup of the plants, animals and humans living in that area. Apart from these gases there are certain effluents which are thrown out in the soil or in the nearest water body with a thought that they will be diluted, but these chemicals are so very harmful that even their parts per million (ppm) concentrations could result in serious diseases which are beyond any treatment and cure. Consumption of polluted water is highly unsafe. The disease called minimata is the result of mercury poisoning in the similar manner various pesticides, chemicals and particulates are thrown in the water body may lead to blindness, cancer, paralysis and if consumed by a pregnant women then it results in malformation of child or leads to diseases like spina bifida or teratogenesis (Blackburn, 2007). These chemicals are known to affect the DNA of the living beings may it be plants, animals or humans.
The advances in nuclear technology and establishing nuclear reactors to meet the growing demands of electricity are causing a serious damage to the soil of the area. Nuclear substances are very harmful and directly affect the physiology of the organisms. Altered physiology leads to the changes in the genetic makeup and hence expression of gene is affected causing genetic damage, incorrect synthesis of protein and hence incorrect enzymes. Together it culminates to make any inhabitant a serious victim of any kind of disease (Lewin, IX edn.)
War, Threats and Accidents
In the haste to empower the nations with arms and ammunitions, the government bodies are purchasing and developing nuclear weapons. When these weapons are tested for their efficiency then it results in the total damage of the area both in terms of vegetation and animals. It is a great concern for environment as we have not forgotten the happening of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb blast of 1945. Inhabitants are still facing the repercussions as the environment is still having the nuclear active particulates causing serious health problems. It must be taken into concern that these elements have huge half life interval and can survive in their active form for long.
Globalization has brought a tremendous impact upon human civilization. The strategies to cope with the globalization are not sufficient to revolutionize anti-globalization approach. The technological advances not only incur deterioration of physical environment by enhancing the percentage of carbon-di-oxide, changes in temperature of the local area but it has given a deep impact to the environment of nations also. Global warming is the combined effect of contribution made by different nations towards globalization. The consequences of global warming are devastating causing not only changes in temperature but also melting of permafrost and oxidation boreal peat deposits, changes in the allocation and profusion of rainfall and storm measures, rise in sea level, depletion of ozone layer. Ozone layer is the protective shield of our environment. It protects the Earth from harmful UV radiations. These radiations are hazardous and results in gene mutation altering the genetic makeup of the organism. Holes in the ozone layer are an open invitation to all kinds of genetic alteration which can prove disastrous. Globalization has also affected the survival pattern of various flora and fauna. A particular geographical area is recognized by the distribution of its flora and fauna patterns but disruption of vegetation for industrialization is not only extending loss of plant species, herbal or any useful varieties but also causing loss of various animal species. Pollution of any kind may it be air, water or soil has impact on the genetic makeup of the individuals. Altered genes not only lead to altered physiology of the organism but also produce altered enzymes causing devastating effects on the individuals. These altered enzymes are responsible for various kinds of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, brain dysfunction. When the polluted water is consumed by a pregnant female may be animal or human then it directly affects the fetus and affects the development of the neonate. Polluted water and air may lead to inhalation and consumption of some carcinogenic particulates which are responsible for the cancer, paralysis, cerebral palsy. Children consuming polluted water show mental retardation, stunted growth, physical weakness, poor mental development. Moreover, soil of the industrial area becomes less productive or unfertile making the land barren. The particulates thrown or dumped in the soil reacts with the natural mineral composition of the soil and deteriorates that quality of the soil. The crops grown in polluted soil are becoming the source of high mineral intake, along with vegetable and fruits various kinds of pesticides are also consumed leading to bioaccumulation of these dangerous chemicals. Consumption of animals for food and meat also leads to bioaccumulation of these pesticides. The sea food is still more dangerous. With the globalization the food items are sent in the processed form to various geographical areas which may vary in temperature conditions. This not only allows the growth of harmful microbes but also deteriorates the quality. To overcome this situation preservatives are being added but still it is another chemical!
Genetic breeding of animals and plants are being performed to produce a high yielding varieties this tendency has lost the wild species. The genetically altered animals or the transgenic animals and plants are more prone to diseases than their wild counterparts. In order to have high milk production and to meet the growing demands of milk and milk products transgenic cattle are preferred over wild animals. Globalization is at one time imposing the nations also to import high yielding cattle to meet the growing demands. This is replacing the original fauna of the domain with the imported ones. It is sometimes dangerous as the animals are being reared under particular conditions and to provide them with the same conditions at other geographical area costs a big amount. It leads to installation of machineries and temperature controlling devices to procure the desired yield. On the other hand these wild varieties are left out of home and then they become nuisance for the other social setups.
The plastic although is becoming the part and parcel of our lives is the biggest pollutant of the present century. It is causing choking hazard as it is non-degradable material. The packaging industry is thriving on this benefit but a concern to the environment is least.
With the advances in technology, computerization of equipments and automation, more unemployment is taking a toll causing communal disempowerment and also cultural and moral impoverishment leading to corruption, adapting fallacies, aggression, stress, hypertension and various health related consequences. Globalization has shown its impact in narrowing the world by bringing nations on a single platform but this platform in true sense has not only widen the gap between the nations but also has brought sufferings to the poor. The hygiene around the industries is a matter of much concern as the water body of this area contains all the effluents emitted from the industries as a waste product. This waste product is either thrown out in the air or is flown in the water and rarely buried in the soil, making the inhabitants to suffer from all kinds of danger.
The developing nations must also check a control over the population. If people are less than the demands will also be less and hence more vegetation, forests and animals will be protected from damage. Plantation must be promoted to protect deforestation. Deforestation is a grave situation and is serving as a beginning of calamity. It is deforestation and destruction of forests and its inhabitants that forecast the changes in climate of that area. If this is prevented then many coming calamities can also be prevented.
The question arises where are we heading with this pace? We are really progressing ahead in life or digging grave for our own destruction? Are we heading towards sustainable development or we are just waiting for the ecosystem to collapse? It is therefore essential that this alarming situation must be given a serious concern and nations should join hands once again not only for economic trade and globalization but for the sake of protecting our planet and whatever natural environment we have must be protected for our survival.
It is therefore a serious predicament that one must take a deep concern about the environment in all aspects of lives. Our natural environment is the sole of our survival and we must protect the same in order to live. We cannot ignore our environment and leave everything for tomorrow. Serious steps to minimize the use of harmful entities must begin from now to protect our local, national and global environment.
We do need a futuristic approach to deal with the issues raised in the present article to procure some natural environment for healthy living.