Today, the global concern about environmental problems is nothing but a very essential issue. The concern has been achieved through scientific research, technological advancement, and global community benchmark discussions. A day hardly goes by without any remarks on the environmental problem since the world is confronted by a critical environmental concern. This concern ranges from climatic change, air &water pollution with hazardous chemicals that are detrimental to people’s health. Efforts are bestowed on innovating means that will better the environment and enhance people’s lives.
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For instance, there has been a campaign that advocates for sustainability through recycling, planting trees, and the use of organic material to get the energy that should be efficiently used. Energy efficiency can be attained even at homes where energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs are used for lighting. Other than being energy efficient, these bulbs are long-lasting as compared to incandescent bulbs and are also useful in limiting the emission of greenhouse gases. However, the solution to the environmental problem has not yet been achieved even when nations and international organizations are putting forward new legislation to handle the issue. Environmental issues have overburdened the global private and public institutions (e.g. the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in pursuit of safeguarding the environment.
Environmental problems have resulted in economic, social, political, and health issues that cannot be resolved without having to address the core issue. For instance, the world population is increasing and since the environmental problems are facing them head-on, many ends up being hungry to acquire related ailments, or are subjected to poverty to produce individuals who could be referred to as environmental refugees. Therefore, could there be an equilibrium between solving the environmental issues and at the same time achieve economic growth? Can the global community come to a consensus on the issue of the environment even when their interests differ? What are some of the responsibilities that international organizations bear in evaluating the effects of free trade on the environment? Is it possible for international trade agreements to present explicit regulations for protecting the environment? Do the rich nations have a role to play in assisting the developing countries to acquire policies that are meant to protect the environment? These are some of the questions that crop up in the pursuit of evaluating the effect of globalization on the environment. This paper will try to answer in detail these questions and also discuss other issues that indeed portray that ‘Protecting the environment is the most important problem facing the world today.’
The World Trade Organization, for instance, has raised alarm about the environment and to what extent the globalization of trade has affected it. The United States has set regulations aimed at safeguarding sea turtles which only exist as seven species. These turtles, however, have been victims of human encroachment accidentally while fishing or otherwise for food. Therefore accidental catching of shrimps could be avoided by using turtle excluder devices’ (TEDs) in fishing nets. The U.S opted to ban imports of shrimp and their products without TEDs since it is an infringement of the worldwide trade law and the U.S Endangered Species Act of 1973. Also, “Section 609 of US Public Law 101-102, enacted in 1989, dealt with imports. It said, among other things, that shrimp harvested with technology that may adversely affect certain sea turtles may not be imported into the US — unless the harvesting nation was certified to have a regulatory program and an incidental take-rate comparable to that of the US, or that the particular fishing environment of the harvesting nation did not pose a threat to sea turtles” (WTO 2011). The ban primarily aimed at safeguarding the environment and its effects were mostly experienced in Southeast Asian nations which couldn’t manage to acquire the turtle excluder devices. As a result, they claimed that the U.S was claiming to safeguard the environment by destroying the development efforts of these nations which were highly dependent upon the exports of shrimp. This case triggers important aspects of the significance of safeguarding the environment about the global economy.
The WTO insists that economic growth should rhyme with efforts to safeguard the environment and emphasize that their accords on intellectual rights, goods, and services allow each nation to prioritize their local environmental policies. Economic growth and environmental protection appear to be on opposing paths. This can be illustrated in for instance the dilemma of whether to attain industrial development or to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the curbing industrialization process. The WTO claims that the best way to handle global issues regarding the environment is to form global environmental agreements.
This way the united efforts will be manifest instead of the issue being left in the hands of some nations. When trade directly affects the environment, the global environmental agreements come into play to resolve the issue. WTO committee is positive that when developing nations are aided with the appropriate tools such as the technology that helps to protect the environment, offered training programs, and monetary aid, they could make a huge reap towards conservation efforts. In case there is a disagreement over trade between two countries that have signed the environment accord, WTO would issue a panel to settle the matter. WTO advocates for eco-labelling i.e. marking products that are environmentally pleasant during their production. The WTO however, needs to communicate its proceedings on environmental policies to the entire world through the media, and the internet (WTO 2011).
In the past, environmentalists had a clear source of pollution like pipes leakages, hazardous damped waste, smoke, automobile exhausts among others. Therefore, the efforts on protecting the environment were easier and the issue could be solved successfully. Today, the origin of some pollutants is not clearly defined which has raised the eyebrows of the global community. The coastlines for instance are diminishing to such an extent that marine life is at risk of losing their habitat or else, the area is not viable for tourism. In these coastlines such as the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the region cannot support life since it has no oxygen especially in summers and surprisingly, the region continues to increase in size. Although this can be attributed to climatic change, it is not clear whether the issue is within or beyond human activities. All the same, human engagements such as the combustion of fossil fuels, which release greenhouse gases e.g. carbon dioxide end up depleting the Ozone and ultimately cause global warming.
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Global warming is real and the rising global temperatures are accelerating. Scientists point out that the trend has to be stopped soon or else the planet earth is on the verge of extinction. Many countries fear that the economic spending on curbing global warming is enormous but there is no other way out. Other cleaner energy sources probably like nuclear power and the use of efficient automobiles could at least handle the problem. The public, on the other hand, may not be fully aware of the risk ahead of climate change and may not even prioritize the issue in their daily undertakings but it is the right time they awakened and face the issue head-on. The environmentalists should create awareness to sensitize the public on the issue before the human race commits what can be described as environmental suicide by causing further assaults to the environment. This should be followed by lifestyle change, to maintain a sound environment that should come before any other issue (Harris 2004).
The major cause of the global concern on the environment is the changing technological and scientific advancements. These have altered many things for instance, by causing deforestations, which is quite easy due to the advanced machines for such work. Easier ways of fishing also enable eroding the fish population. Such great power may sometimes be detrimental. The ever-rising global population, on the other hand, means more land is needed to accommodate them. Therefore, the areas which were initially natural environments are encroached to meet their needs such as urbanization. This is followed by issues such as pollution, expansion of deserts, and hunger which trigger the concern of the global community, which is in dire need to pursue a solution. Air, land, and water Pollution cause deaths and many related ailments. Pollution may occur due to deforestation, waterways contamination with industrial effluent and oil spills, air pollution with gases such as bas SO2 and noise pollution which may lead to auditory problems (Fridell 2006).
Besides, the rising population exhausts natural resources such as fossil fuels which when used; they, in turn, pollute the environment and raises energy security concerns. These fuels when combusted leads to acid rain that is hazardous to flora and fauna which constitute biodiversity. The marine life is at the greatest risk of the acid rain, the dumpsites which emerge are also are risky to people and water bodies. These chemicals in dumpsites also contaminate the earth and cause terminal ailments such as cancer. These pollutants e.g. carbon dioxide deplete the ozone which is essential in filtering harmful radiations from the sun. When the ozone is depleted, the greenhouse effect arises, global warming follows which eventually leads to the greatest threat of climatic changes. As a result, climatic changes are characterized by transformations in the weather patterns, expansions of deserts, flash floods occurrence, increase in hurricanes, extinction of species, melting of the polar glacier, drought, rising sea levels, etc. (Fridell 2006). With all these issues at hand, isn’t it obvious that man has to be concerned about his fate? This is marked by conferences such as the 2010 Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico, the Copenhagen among others which are aimed at discussing climate change mitigation. Man is affected by all these issues and has to pay attention to them. Consequently, they trigger many discussions about environmental issues. Therefore, it is agreeable that ‘Protecting the environment is the most important problem facing the world today.’
Fridell, R. 2006. Environmental Issues: Open for Debate. New York. Marshall Cavendish Benchmark.
Harris, F. 2004. Global Environmental issues. England: John Wiley & Sons.
World Trade Organization (WTO). 2011. Understanding the WTO Cross-cutting and New Issues, the Environment: a Specific Concern. Web.