maandag 9 januari 2012

Globalization and the loss of our Environment

The inexhaustible belief in economic growth as the key to progress, begins to falter as the systems that support life on earth become more and more affected and as the signals that indicate an ecological disaster continue to increase. Globalization geared to stimulating growth by increasing the consumption is an overload for the environment and widens the gap between the rich and the poor.

Neo-liberals opt for "free" market solutions to increase the consumption by the population. Examples of this include tax cuts and low interest rates, which are supposed to stimulate investment and make consumers spend more money.

Until recent the environment was completely ignored in the whole globalization process. The economy, that's getting increasingly global, is completely dependent on a good management of our planet Earth, but everything around us indicates that the ecological health of our planet is in serious danger.

In the last two centuries the industrial production has consumed irreplaceable vast amounts of natural resources. Whole ecosystems and habitats are not only destroyed in an alarming rate, but it is also becoming clear that our natural resources (the "natural capital" of the economy) is exhausted. We produce waste at a rate that exceeds the capacity of nature to renew and heal itself. All around us we can find the evidence of the destruction of our planet. There is an urgent need for the disintegration of the basic systems for sustaining life, but we just take them for granted. The water cycle, the composition of the atmosphere, waste disposal and recycling of nutrients, pollination of crops, the delicate interplay between different species: all this is in great danger.

This huge decline of our planet is registered and endorsed by many studies. The deserts are spreading, whole forests are felled, fertile lands are ruined by erosion and desalination, fishing grounds are depleted and groundwater reserves are drained. The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to rise due to the excessive use of fossil fuels. All this in order to provide our consumerism. Since 1950, global economic output has nearly quintupled, from $ 3,800,000,000 to $ 18,900,000,000 U.S. dollars. In this relatively short period, a larger part of the natural capital was destroyed than in the entire history of mankind before 1950.

Several animal rights groups warn that the global extinction of animal and plant species is accelerating, just as the dramatic decline in populations of several species. The loss of habitats, human cultivation and invasion of alien species are seen as the greatest threats to nature. Scientists believe that the natural rate at which species extinct is one species per 4 years. The current rate is estimated to be at 1000 to 10,000 times the natural rate.

By the export-led growth and the debt of Third World countries, bodies such as the World Bank and IMF, have collectively boosted the pace of rapid consumption of the irreplaceable natural resources of the earth. The adjustment policies that are imposed on Third World countries as the price for access to the global trading community, means that they are obliged to repay their debts before they are allowed to do anything else. Their only option is the acceleration of the export of raw materials to the worldmarket. Herein lies a major problem; because all the poor countries have to increase their export a so-called market saturation is created. This will cause the prices of recources to fall, so the poor countries have to increase their production and exports to meet their debt obligations. Because the production and export of these countries has to grow, more and more forest is felled for agriculture and less and less resources are available for their own markets. This is definitely not good for the environment in their country and also forms a major attack on our planet as a whole.

Quote ecologist Robert Ayres: "Everything indicates that human economic activity, supported by a mistaken policy of trade and growth, is a long way to destroy our natural environment more quickly than any other known disrupting event in the history of the planet whatsoever, except perhaps for the large asteroid impact that brought the extinction of the dinosaurs. It could well be that we are heading towards our own extinction."

And yet the neo-liberals still believe in their "free global trade". The (apparent) logic of globalization is seductive because it is based on a simple premise: free the market of its restrictions, and her self-organizing dynamics will bring employment, wealth and prosperity. The carrying capacity of our earth would be infinite. Through a combination of ingenuity and technology it would eventually be possible for anyone to live like the American middle class. But despite the (self-) confidence of those who are preaching "neoliberal gospel", there is clear evidence that the common people begin to lose their faith in the neoliberal world of free trade. Worldwide, more and more protests start against this state of affairs. Even in circles of power, globalization is increasingly criticized and nationalist sentiments are growing worldwide. Some previous supporters of the neoliberal policies are forced to revise their opinions by the repeated proof that the neoliberal approach is not working and only leads to all sorts of terrible crisis and a growing gap between the rich and the poor.

Source: Vrije Nationalisten Noord-Brabant / Netwerk Nationale Socialisten

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