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The Impact of Globalization on the Environment

Some countries have strict rules and regulations regarding environmental concerns like pollution, waste, and conservation (of both habitat and natural resources). In some cases they have governmental agencies set up to ensure that these federally mandated standards are upheld within their nation’s borders and they may even try to regulate their native corporations operating in foreign countries as a way to ensure that they are neither responsible nor liable for environmental devastation. Many also put policies into effect to clean up past infractions or educate younger generations so that they don’t make the same mistakes. But not all countries are concerned with the state of the environment, and this is where globalization can become a big problem for everyone.

On the whole, globalization can be seen as a beneficial occurrence. When people connect as individuals and groups on a planetary scale, the opportunity for understanding and compassion can only grow. Whereas we might harbor assumptions about a group of people based on stereotypes, these misconceptions rarely hold up when we interact at a personal level, and the global communication epidemic that has resulted from the widespread availability of the internet is unparalleled in human history (perhaps it is only rivaled by hive-mind groups like ants and bees).

And then, of course, there is the growing global economy to consider, and it too has provided many benefits to people and companies alike. Businesses that choose to expand to foreign nations may find a new market in which to operate, along with increased revenues. And the communities that host businesses from foreign nations are likely to reap the rewards of increased jobs and potentially even improvements to their infrastructure (should the branch require services not currently available, such as transportation, waste disposal, and channels of communication). In short, it’s a win-win…except for the environment.

The first problem with businesses expanding their organizations to include foreign locales is one of transportation. Whether employees are flying back and forth between bases of operation or materials and goods are getting shipped across the globe, pollution is bound to increase any time a companies and individuals take advantage of the growing network for travel afforded by globalization. And this isn’t the biggest problem by a long shot.

The real issue that people should be concerned with is the so-called race to the bottom. Picture, if you will, a country (let’s call them country A) that has long enjoyed international funding due to companies interested in doing business with them thanks to environmental standards that are lower than their nation of origin. Now consider that globalization has allowed multi-national corporations to realize new opportunities along these lines, perhaps in nations that have even lower standards pertaining to pollution and waste disposal. Corporations will naturally be drawn to areas that offer the fewest restrictions and the lowest operating costs. That means country A is out. In order to continue receiving their international business patronage, country A may be forced to lower their environmental standards even further. Hence the race to the bottom, whereby all will end up paying the ultimate price.

Of course, it’s not all bad. While auditing every PLI Web Resource available will be of no use once these countries start lowering the bar, the very globalization that has caused this issue can also help to put a stop to it. Through communication, education, and outreach, organizations that support conservation and global standards for pollution and waste can support local movements within every nation in order to spread the word about the environmental impact of globalization. Only through awareness can change occur, and globalization has opened an avenue by which activism may prevail.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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