Author: Dominika Wozniak
ABSTRACT: Globalization is the spread of products, technology, information, and jobs across national borders and cultures (MasterClass, 2020). Typically, it can be divided into economic, cultural and political dimensions. Globalization may seem like an overall positive thing; it improves communication between people, drives innovation, and brings people many new possibilities. But why is the current nature of globalization unsustainable?
Economy. Economic development of countries participating in the global economy typically means better living standards, however it is not equal for all countries as richer countries often benefit more than developing countries. An example of that could be developed countries exploiting cheaper labor and manufacturing from third world countries. For developed countries – it makes the variety of products wider and more affordable through lowering the price of production, often resulting in low quality products which do not last long and are generally treated as more disposable. Low prices also increase the consumption of products and therefore increase in the production of goods which puts stress on the environment. On the other hand – one could argue that for developing countries it brings jobs and possibilities which is true, however multinational corporations such as Inditex are notorious for polluting the environment through turning rivers into dead zones filled with cancer-causing chemicals and heavily violating workers’ rights, therefore, such jobs are not sustainable (Chua, 2019).
Culture. Cultural globalization is linked to spreading ideas, values, and trends all around the world mostly through the internet and media. An example of cultural globalization could be the trading of products such as coffee or avocados. Avocados, which used to supply only local populations in Mexico, are now eaten on a daily basis all around the world which has led to destroying forest lands and enormous water waste. According to IHE Delft Institute for Water Education 9.5 billion litres of water are used daily to produce avocado – equivalent to 3,800 Olympic pools – requiring a massive extraction of water from Michoacán aquifer (Ayala, 2020).
Transportation. The faster transportation of goods and easy access to international travel seems to be a benefit; an easy way to save time and experience different cultures. With that however comes lots of carbon emissions caused by flying as well as quick transportation of viruses and disease. In the old days people used to consume locally grown food, however now it is normal to eat produce imported from the other side of the globe. The amount of fuel that is consumed in transporting these products has led to an increase in the use of non-renewable energy such as gasoline, in air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Then there is the additional problem of packaging the goods for export. Majority of them are packed with plastic and since plastic is a non-biodegradable product, it is one of the major pollutants.
Industrialization. One of the issues that comes with industrialization is the toxic waste that comes from factories. Many developing countries do not yet have the resources or technology to get rid of the waste in a sustainable way. Usually, such waste is then dumped into oceans or rivers affecting marine ecosystems and people who rely on the water for drinking, or it ends up contaminating the soil. “The damage caused to the ecosystem from the oil that spilled from one of the leaking containers of British Petroleum in 2010 is just one of the examples of the threat globalization poses to the environment”(Mekennen & Hoekstra, 2010).
What can we do about it? Globalization is a very complex subject affecting many areas of human life. The solution to the problem of unsustainability in globalization could be developing mechanisms that prioritize the environment over profit. There is also the possibility that if certain companies take a lead in being sustainable, it will encourage others to follow the trend. One of the more tangible steps that were made in this direction is the creation of the Fair-Trade agreement which ensures that production in developing countries takes place in safe conditions, is paid fairly, protects the environment, and even contributes to local communities. According to Sandra Bhatasara: Fair-trade must be a strategy towards global sustainability and to alleviate poverty that goes a long way than economic benefits. Raynolds, Murray and Taylor (2004) noted that while financial benefits of fair-trade appear the most significant in the short run, in the long run, it is the empowerment and capacity building nature of fair-trade that will prove most important in fueling sustainable development.
How Globalization Works: Pros and Cons of Globalization, Written by MasterClass, Nov 8, 2020. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-globalization-works-pros-and-cons-of-globalization
The environment and economy are paying the price for fast fashion — but there’s hope, Jasmin Malik Chua, Sep 12, 2019. https://www.vox.com/2019/9/12/20860620/fast-fashion-zara-hm-forever-21-boohoo-environment-cost
Avocado: the ‘green gold’ causing environment havoc, Manuel Ochoa Ayala, 24 Feb 2020 https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/02/avocado-environment-cost-food-mexico/
The green, blue and grey water footprint of crops and derived crop products, M.M. Mekonnen, A.Y. Hoekstra, December 2010 https://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Report47-WaterFootprintCrops-Vol1.pdf
Dominika Wozniak is a second year Multimedia Design student at KEA in Copenhagen. She is mostly focused on fields like digital design and business and aims to approach them in a sustainable manner.