Environmental degradation is a controversial issue of the last and new centuries. Because human activities increased with the developing technology since the last century, human effects on the environment have increased. Similarly, the consequences of globalization are also results of human activities. For example, Scholte (2000) states that ozone layer depletion, which is an environmental problem, is a global issue and the depletion is caused by human activities. Furthermore, globalization is a significant feature of recent world history which can be characterized as the spread of supra-territorialization according to Scholte (2000). What is meant by supra-territorialization is not that there are no more territories, but decreasing importance of territories in some social spaces (Scholte, 2000).
Hence, one can conclude that globalization and environmental degradation simultaneously take place in the world history. As Scholte indicated, globalization is a new phenomenon which emerged with new changes and contemporary issues. To distinguish globalization from other phenomena, Scholte (2000) stresses that global is neither international, which includes cross-border exchanges while globalization includes trans-border exchanges, nor universal, which indicates spreading worldwide where globalization indicates trans-world coordination (Scholte, 2000). In addition to this, environmental problems such as the greenhouse warming of the earth, ozone layer depletion, the loss of biodiversity, and acid rains are supra-territorial and concern all states. Taking globalization as defined above, this paper will argue that four major environmental problems named above are global.
The most controversial environmental problem in recent years is the greenhouse warming of the earth. Many scientists and scientific organizations have been investigating the issue of climate change and have been warning the public. Singh (1995) states that structure of the atmosphere allows any gases spreading easily. One of the reasons for the greenhouse warming is said to be the increasing amount of greenhouse gases. Moreover, Fleagle (1994) states that changes in the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is one of the greenhouse gases, is an explanation for climate changes.
In addition to this, scientific interest about the issue of climate change increased in 1960s, with the scientific evidence of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere in the late 1950s (Fleagle, 1994). Since then much scientific data related to temperature indicate the rise of temperature all over the world. However, increasing amounts of CO2 in the 1900s concerned countries, mostly with the issue of pollution (McNeil, 1992). According to McNeil (1992), environmental pollution, or specifically air pollution, was local in both reasons and results, but in the late twentieth century with the increasing amount of some gases, pollution became global (McNeil, 1992). Furthermore, because the same increase of gases in some regions has spread in the atmosphere, the results affect the entire world; in other words, the resultant problems, one of which is climate change, are global.
Another controversial environmental problem is the depletion of the ozone layer which is especially caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The issue of ozone depletion first emerged as a problem in the 1970s. Rajan (1997) states that in the late 1970s and 1980s some governments were aware of the problem and tried to prevent the wide use of CFCs. However, as CFCs have important cost-efficient uses and are non-toxic, multinational corporations did not want to decrease the use of CFCs. Therefore, they lobbied their governments to support their view (Rajan, 1997). On the other hand, indicating ozone depletion over Antarctica, the first scientific evidence about the thinning of the ozone layer was attained in 1980s (Fleagle, 1994; Rajan, 1997). This scientific data led to more awareness so many states, most of which are in the North, signed the Montreal Protocol in 1987 (Rajan, 1997). What made those countries sign such a protocol was the global awareness that the ozone layer is a common resource of protection from the harmful rays of the sun and thinning of the ozone layer will affect the whole world. In other words, those countries were aware of the fact that the depletion of the ozone layer was a global problem.
The next environmental problem which concerns many countries is the loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity, or biological diversity, is the variability of living organisms, that is variability within species and between species. According to Rajan (1997), biodiversity is important especially for three reasons: its economic value, for the protection of ecosystems and the protection of ethical and cultural values for countries. As the loss of species increased, international concerns about the issue of biodiversity rose especially in the 1980s. Moreover, many organizations and protected areas were established with a great participation of nations (Rajan, 1997). These activities indicate how an environmental problem made countries come together. Another point is that this global consciousness is taking place simultaneously with the rise of globalization. As happened in most of the issues, scientific discoveries and the emergence of new technologies -biotechnologies- made the loss of biodiversity be seen as an environmental problem in the world (Rajan, 1997). Moreover, recent developments about genetics and biotechnology, especially DNA codes and cloning, have once more demonstrated the importance of biodiversity. However, Rajan (1997) states that the issue of conservation of biodiversity has become a debate about control of genetic resources with the trend of intellectual property protection.
The last environmental problem that should concern the world is the acid rain. Acid rains occur when a reaction between water molecules and acidic molecules arose in the air. And atmosphere or air is the most affected area by pollutants (Singh, 1995). Normally, percentage of the acidic molecules is very small in the air, so that the reaction does not occur. However, the amount of the acidic molecules -such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides- and other particles increased in the air (Singh, 1995). In other words, as McNeil (1992) stated, air pollution increased in the twentieth century. Moreover, those particles causing pollution also causes acid rains. Acid rain was named by a British chemist a century ago, when he discovered that rainfall was polluted (Rose, 1994). According to Rose, acid rain is a regional problem and so it can only be solved by an international community at a regional level. In other words, acid rain problem cannot be solved individually by countries; countries sharing the problem should come together for solutions. Therefore, what he meant is kind of global togetherness as the scale of acid rains is also enlarging through the whole world by the atmosphere. Rose (1994) also mentions that the amount of the gases causing acid rain increased in the last few decades. Moreover, these pollutants can be transferred several kilometers across many countries (Rose, 1994).
In conclusion, greenhouse warming of the earth, ozone layer depletion, loss of biodiversity, and acid rains are global environmental problems, which need global consciousness and global solutions. These problems are global as they take place on a common region for the entire world. Moreover, they need to be solved globally as they are mostly caused by human activities and as their distribution over the world does not depend on the borders. The solution to the climate change in the world would be decreasing the release of the greenhouse gases into the air, for example CO2 that also causes air pollution. There are many publishes on this issue which talks about what greenhouse gases are and what increases their amount, so one can decrease the use of those materials as a starting point for solution. On the issue of ozone layer depletion there are studies to decrease it; scientists have really taken the attention of the public on this issue that people are mostly caring about whether the material is harmful or not for the ozone layer or air, and thus for human life. However, most people are not aware of the fact that biological diversity is decreasing in the recent years. There are people and communities concerning about the topic, but they cannot be much successful as they are not in a global scale.
Fleagle, R.G. (1994). Global Environmental Change. USA: Preager Publishers.
This source is a book that mostly concerns about policy implications of global change. It is especially on global change policies of USA, but also gives information about the environmental issues, such as global warming, erosion of the ozone layer and acid rains in a global scale. Moreover, the author suggests predictions about those environmental problems and shows how they are related to other entities in human life, such as economic situation of the state. The audience of the book is policy makers, politicians and government members. First three chapters, especially third one, were very useful in the paper as they give facts about global warming, ozone layer depletion and acid rains.
McNeil, J.R. (1992). Something New Under the Sun. Civilization Course Packet.
This is an article of the author from the course packet, which gives big amount of information about the environmental pollution especially air pollution. The author examines the Black Sea Region as a case to show the scale of pollution. The article is very useful on the issues of ozone layer depletion and acid rains as pollution occur with them. However, the problems he demonstrated mostly seemed to be regional and the link between globalization and those problems are not pointed very well.
Rajan, M.G. (1997). Global Environmental Politics: India and the North-South Politics of the global Environmental Issues. New York: Oxford University Press.
This source is a case research book on environmental problems and policy implications in India. The cases from India were not so helpful in the book. However, chapters three, five and seven were very useful in the research paper because those chapters give specific information about global warming, ozone layer depletion and the loss of biodiversity.
Rose, J. (1994) Acid Rain. Ed. USA: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers
This source is a book of set of articles on the issue of acid rain, air pollution and their relation with some other issues. The audience of the book is researchers on acid rains. The most and only useful part of the book for the research is chapter 6, whose author is Jean Michel Jakobowicz. Her article is very useful since she gives both historical background information and statistics. Although most of the article talks about policy implications, remaining part was very useful especially to check my own knowledge about acid rains.
Scholte, J.A. (2000). Globalization: A Critical Introduction. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
This source gives an introduction to globalization as indicated in the title. The author tries to give a broad description of globalization, so that he examines all theories and definitions of globalization. The audience of the book is any person curious about globalization. This book helped the research in the way that it provides a definition of globalization in order to discuss why some of the environmental problems are global. Especially part I of the book was very useful in the paper as it provides some links between environmental problems and globalization.
Singh, H. B. (1995). Composition, Chemistry and climate of the Atmosphere. Ed. USA, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
This source is a science book mostly concerning about the chemical and physical structure of the atmosphere and atmospheric events. The audience of the book is chemists and environmental researchers. First chapter was useful in the research as it gives historical background and facts about atmosphere. Moreover, the chapter is secure in the way that it relates the issues to scientific knowledge.