Globalization and Ideal Landscapes
Globalization is a broad term that has several meanings to different factions, cultural
Groups and nations. For our purposes globalization refers to the loss of time and space through the rapid development of technologies. It also refers to a world in which all nations and peoples are directly or indirectly connected through the international economy and world politics. This rapid trend toward a globalized world has seen supporters from both the first world financial sectors and the mass producing agricultural sector. Its main detractors have been environmentalists and the indigenous peoples who are adversely affected by the encroaching nature of globalism. Environmentalists have pointed to environmental degradation and the loss of valuable and naturally sustainable landscapes as the main argument against globalization.However, champions for continued globalization insist that growing populations and the desire to live the comfortable first world lifestyle force economies and people to expand into landscapes that have historically remained diverse, safe, and sustainable. The difficult task facing the human race in the next century will be finding the delicate balance that must exist between continued population and economic growth and the protection and preservation of natural and ideal landscapes.
The global era involves the mass production and consumption of consumer goods and commercial services. This New World also has to have elaborate and extensive means of distribution to support the flow of goods and services across great distances. Modern advancements in telecommunications, aerospace, satellite, and computer technologies have all greatly facilitated the movement of goods, services, information and ideas in minute amount of time.The disappearance of time and spatial limitations is the nature of the globalized world we live in today.
World economies are the probably the greatest contributing factor to the destruction of ideal landscapes.Historically, economies have been the main cause of landscape modification. European colonization and the drive to find raw materials and new markets led to massive landscape makeovers on every continent except Antarctica. For example the European expansion into the Americas led to a dramatic change in the landscape. When the Europeans arrived, North America was a thick forest of woodland. In order for the colonists to survive an incentive existed for landscape modification including woodland clearance for agriculture. Over hundreds of years and advances in technology and populations, North American boreal forests have been significantly destroyed severely depleting the number of species and the overall biodiversity.
Another biodiverse and sustainable ideal landscape that has been recently hampered by the negative aspects of globalization are the Brazilian rain forests.The economic pressures of the world’s corporations to find more land to encroach have seen the destruction of millions of acres of valuable rain forest. Another problem facing the rain forests is from its own indigenous people. Their lack of agricultural knowledge including soil preservation, erosion and turnover has led to harmful farming tactics like slash and burn.This has caused the loss of biodiversity and has decreased the long-term sustainability of the rain forests.
Fortunately, the human race has developed enough to realize that the destruction of these ideal landscapes across the world will eventually have an adverse effect upon humans themselves. Advancements in technology, medicine, and communications have created a medium for landscape conservation. The discovery of valuable species of both plant and animal for medicinal uses have been one of the largest factors in the movement to preserve and protect the remaining acres of the rain forests of the world. Information, such as the rain forests importance in oxygen production, has also led to conservation. Agricultural technology has led to increased production and better use of agricultural landscapes. There is no longer the great waste that was accompanied by the earlier agricultural landscapes and systems. Therefore, technology may be the only way we can sustain the remaining ideal landscapes that exist.
I believe that the continued protection of ideal landscapes will only ensue if and when the landscape in question is proved to be of importance to the humans who are threatening it. To return to our rain forest example, the only reason humans have decided to make protecting it a priority is because they have realized its long -term importance to human race as a whole. Eventually landscapes that are protected solely for the purpose of aesthetics will be displaced if the world economy deems it necessary for the continued production of goods. As far as the question, “Does the globalization of the economy contribute or detract from making the world better?”, I say it depends on your point of view. From a first world point of view I would have to say that globalization has certainly made the world a better place. I have troubles with a lot of contemporary environmentalists that cry for preservation but still enjoy all of the first world modern conveniences that are provided to them by the globalized economy. From my point of view globalization has been a great development in human history. Humans enjoy a far easier life than its counterparts who had to slave away doing manual labor a hundred or more years ago. Travel is easy, safe and relatively inexpensive. Information about all topics of life are a fast finger away with the development of computers and the internet (a phenomenon that could not exist without a globalized world I might add!).I truly believe that the overwhelming majority of first world and industrialized peoples would not give up their modern way of life and luxuries for the preservation of the landscapes that are destroyed to ensure it.
1. Wallerstein, I. 1974. The modern World System. New York: Academic Press.
2. Simmons, I.G. 1996. Changing the Face of the Earth: Culture, environment, history. Oxford: Blackwell.
3. Short, J. 1991. Imagined Country: environment, culture and society. London: Routledge.