Impact of Globalization on the Environment Essay

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Mobility has allowed human civilizations throughout history to reap the benefits of unrestricted, intercontinental trade, but there are environmental costs as a result which are not immediately apparent. There is no doubt that trade between nations has depleted natural resources, but the question as to whether current trade policies augment or temper environmental degradation is currently under contention. One view is that environmental regulations will create "pollution havens" in countries where there are less stringent regulations, simply relocating environmental damage to a country where the environment is worth less. The opposing view comes in the form of the "Porter hypothesis" named for Michael Porter and his suggestion that …show more content…
The introduction of plantations into these countries had immediate effects on the local ecosystems. "Deforestation … was extensive in both Brazil and the [Caribbean] islands. Forests were cleared to plant cane and to supply fuel for the sugar mills as well as for urban construction and other purposes. The coastal forests of northeast Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, Minas Gerais and other settlement zones largely disappeared during the colonial era, permanently altering the landscape of vast territories (Solbrig, 32)." This form of destruction is neither an isolated nor exceptional event. Clearing of forests for urban trading centers and agriculture should be expected in an economically stimulated trade system. Without ocean transport, the intercontinental slave and sugar trade routes could not have existed. In fact, John Coatsworth (cited in Globalization and the Rural Environment) comments that until the slave trade, the "huge cost advantage" of ocean transport was not fully exploited because with the innovations in sea-faring technology, the most cost-effective use of shipping was in trading very heavy goods i.e. humans and sugar cane. Intercontinental free trade clearly had an overwhelmingly detrimental effect on the environment in its early stages.

At present, the effects of current environmental policy and trade liberalization on the environment are being assessed in order to offer some insight as to how we can reduce pollution while still

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