In his TED talk, Goldin presented some problems that arose due to rapid globalization. He states that the deterioration of biodiversity and ecosystem, climate change, financial crisis and the widening gap in social equality are the major problems faced by the world today. Globalisation is the growing interconnectedness of people and places through converging processes of economic, political and cultural changes. It has caused countries to become increasingly integrated among one another because of the advances in technology. In my opinion, the most significant problem is the environmental impact due to large-scale human activities.
The world we live in today has adopted the capitalist ideology, which promotes the growth of a consumerist and materialistic society. This in turn results in unnecessary wastage and overconsumption as well as exploitation of natural resources as the majority of the nations would exploit the advantages nature has to offer in order to ensure progress. Thus, biodiversity and the ecosystem are deteriorating due to over exploitation and the large demand for resources. Human activities such as deforestation, agricultural processes, and vehicle exhaustion had increased the carbon emissions into the atmosphere, further contributing to global warming. At the same time, harmful chemicals released are polluting the environment, destroying natural habitats and endangering the ecosystem. Hence, in an attempt to mitigate the problem, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have come together to resolve the environmental issues. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) is one example of such NGOs as it assists countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices, and promotes the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment.
To enforce the importance of ecosystem management, international organisations pressured countries to limit economic activites that may be harmful to the environment. By doing so, countries will have no choice but to obey the demands of these NGOs to prevent loss of potential trade partners. An example of political pressure was showed during the 2008 Beijing Olympics whereby China received tremendous global pressure to reduce carbon emissions and pollutants as the particles in the air could be deadly to athletes (Soos, 2012). China was listed as the largest carbon dioxide emitter, overtaking the United States since 2007 (Rosenthal, 2008). However, intimidating countries may not be effective enough to significantly reduce the impact on the deteriorating environment. China did not rectify the Kyoto Protocol even though it was faced with much global pressure. China is still the largest carbon dioxide emitter followed by the United States today. Hence, international influence on the country may be effective to a limited extent, as some countries do not want to dampen their local economic growth by reducing industrialization. Due to the nature of the world today, economic success has become the main focus of every country. In order to no lose out in the global market, countries tend to place a larger emphasis on profit instead of protecting the environment. Therefore, international organisations may not be able to achieve its ideal impact on protecting the environment.
Another solution to resolve environmental degradation is to pump in large amounts of funds to remove the pollutants in the natural environment. Governments would fund projects that help to preserve endangered habitats and clean polluted ecosystems. In many less developed countries, there is a lack in monetary power for proper disposal of waste material. Unregulated dumping of sewage and industrial waste polluted many water sources. Sewage can also carry potent human pathogens as well as toxic chemicals. The Suzhou Creek Rehabilitation Project was implemented in 1999 to improve water quality, strengthen water resources management, and improve flood control (ADB, 2005). The first phase of the plan has successfully completed in 2003. It was able to alleviate the odor and pathogens from the sewage and realised social, environmental, and economic benefits. This shows that cleaning up the environment by the government is effective. However, it might be unfair to less developed countries, as they do not have the necessary resources to mitigate the problems they face. In order to maintain the ecosystem, large amounts of money are required to fund the costly projects to clear up waste. These countries may often be in monetary debt and thus unable to produce the funds to maintain the environment. At the same time, poorer countries would tend to disregard environmental issues as they focus on economic growth.
In conclusion, globalisation can be a boon or bane for countries. The impact on the environment due to human activities can be alleviated with political influence and large government funded projects. However, we should protect the environment from the smallest of actions by recycling and reducing waste. We are after all, ‘caretakers’ of the planet as the most intelligent species on Earth.
Asian Development Bank, 2005. Suzhou Creek Rehabilitation Project (Loan 1692-PRC) In the People’s Republic of China. Retrived from http://www2.adb.org/Documents/PCRs/PRC/pcr-prc-32121.pdf
Goldin, Ian. 2009. Navigating our global future. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/ian_goldin_navigating_our_global_future.html
Ghose, Tia. 2013. Global carbon emissions to reach record level. Retrived from http://www.livescience.com/41326-2013-carbon-emissions-record-levels.html
Rosenthal, Elisabeth. 2008. China Increases Lead as Biggest Carbon Dioxide Emitter. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/14/world/asia/14china.html?_r=0
Soos, Andy. 2012. Beijing 2008 Olympics Air Quality. Retrieved from http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/44710
Zarco, T. H. (2014). The Influence of Materialism on Consumer Preferences: A Conjoint Analysis Approach. Philippine Management Review, 21.