Globalization And Sustainability

Globalization And Sustainability The world was once vast and unknown. Communication was once dreaded as messages would take exceeded amounts of time from one point of destination to the next. Countries would not know of each others affairs for months because the world was large beyond anyones imagination. But as soon as technology reared its head the world rapidly became smaller. It modified everything within its grasp. Communication that once took months could now take seconds. Travelling abroad that would have taken years now took hours. Every institution that fell into this form of globalisation changed.

It is obvious to see that governments have also been effected by globalisation in such ways that they can either imitate or contrast with each other. Yet a controversy exists about the issue on the effect of globalisation on governmental power. On one side of the argument globalisation is considered as a force that weakens the power of government whereas others debate the contrary, claiming that there is no effect and power remains constant. Still both arguments fail because of the extremity that they impose. A better argument would be that globalisation does effect government power, not to the point of weakening, but ensuring that no abuse of power occurs unknowingly. Globalisation is simply a tool that enables the actions of governments to be monitored by other countries and world organisations. With comparison of Australian and Canadian environmental policy, it will be clear that actions taken by the government have been influenced (not controlled) by globalisation.

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The idea of the world becoming a small interactive village is what many would consider the effect of globalisation. Boundaries are no longer an issue and can be crossed with an easy click of the mouse. But globalisation is far from being a new concept that came along with technology. It has existed since humans have had curiosity. The exploring of new lands, the discovery of new peoples and nations, to the fascination of natures physical features, people have been in the process of globalisation for centuries.

Technology had simply allowed globalisation to progress a little more rapidly than what it had accomplished in the past. Although it seems that globalisation brings promise of a unified Utopian society this is far from becoming the truth. Todays world is based on the market. The selling of goods and services to the consumer to gain profit. Therefore globalisation has become the expansion of the market place with greater opportunities for production and trade in new locations.1 Relations are established between nations, not for the mere satisfaction of peace, but for the insurance that a trading partner exists where profit can be gained. This motivation from profit leads to the element of the manufacturing process.

In order to achieve maximum profit corporations need to spend less in producing a product. They go about this through means of cheap energy fuel (usually fossil fuels like coal), low labour wages, and cutting costs in waste disposal. For an exceeded amount of time corporations have been able to escape the clutches of the law because it was seen that damage to the environment was a small price to pay in exchange for high profits. For instance abuse to the Canadian forests in the past two centuries has led to a large proportion of it being cut, 8 000 kilometres long and hundreds of kilometres wide.2 When large damage has been inflicted only then will peoples concerns be aroused. Governments then needed to intervene, to steer corporations from inflicting anymore damage to resources and environment.

Canadian government had only made environmental policy a main concern since 1985. It was in the Ontario provincial election where pollution was made a significant issue. This was the first time ever that the issue of pollution was made a priority. Ever since the topic of concern for pollution has been maintained by both provincial and federal institutions.3 Australia on the other hand began its involvement on the issue in 1980. It was in this year that the World Conservation Strategy was published and the country took it upon itself to formulate a similar document that would help enforce the idea of sustainable environment throughout the nation.4 Although government intervention seems to guarantee some progress towards sustainability the idea of globalisation alters the desired effects. World trade allows the cheapest producer to gain maximum profits.

Competition for profits is then always present. In order for competition to exist all producers must somehow keep product costs low while maintaining or increasing product output. If legislation is passed within a country that holds a corporation responsible for destruction to the environment by means of their waste, corporations can still outrun any consequences from their actions. It is difficult to prosecute institutions because they are essential.5 They provide jobs, goods and services, and distribute money towards many organisations. The industry allows economy to prosper as well as many citizens that partake in the production and consumption of the goods.

The destruction of the environment is seen as irrelevant to the benefits of cash profit that the industry brings. What corporations fail to observe is the future outlook. The concern is only on maximum exploitation for maximum gain. No corporation has interest in conservation because of the mentality of whatever is left by a corporation will simply be used by a competitor.6 Yet the immediate gains will not always be present because sooner or later resources will be exhausted and there will then be a failure to produce, soon followed by a collapse within the industry production and profit. Sustainability will ensure that resources can be reserved as well as allowing time for some replenishment.

It is for this reason that governments have decided to be involved, for a fall in industry would lead to a fall in the economy and the welfare of the state. Canada and Australia share the same vision when it comes to sustainability. Both understand that environmental policy is essential to maintain a prosperous nation. There has been a similar vision on the purpose of developing environmental policy. The development is to allow (i) multiple times scales in which the present is considered as well as the near and farther future; (ii) effect on various dimensions of social life where economy, environment, and social equity are viewed as equal; and (iii) diverse social and ecological scales where region and locality are a concern as well as the global nation.7 All three aspects are to produce an ecologically balanced society, with stable institutions designed to assure equilibrium within tolerances that the natural environment can support.8 This is much easier said than done. The event of there being total agreement is never achieved and compromising always leads to one or all parties involved to be unsatisfied. In order to satisfy government policy, as well as avoid negative outbreaks by environmental conscience citizens, corporations need to follow the specified guidelines of environmental sustainability.

Institutions then need to pay much more attention and effort towards waste elimination and treatment. This costs a substantial amount of money. Two options are to either increase product prices or cut spending on other operations within the process. Increasing prices would allow costs to be covered and avoid in any profit loss experienced by the corporation but high prices could cause for decrease in profit for it causes a decrease in profits by the lower prices This again is a of current competitors. This is the reason why the second option is more favourable. Cutting costs in the operation allows for the same amount to be spent on production and in some instances even less.

Most popular method of cutting is within the removal of management layers. By eliminating certain amounts of staff and replacing them with computers and automation manufacturing processes companies can then compete in the world market.9 This occurs mostly in wealthy nations such as Canada, Australia, England, and the United States. Since poor nations have no strict policies on labour leading to low wage structures, production by corporations within these nations can produce product cheaply and sell at an admirably low price.10 Since wealthy nations have high labour costs, expensive social programs, and a high degree of foreign investment, in order to compete in the world market they choose to employ less.11 It seems to be a simple enough tactic but other corporations have been so used to a certain process of production that instead of changing their methods they would rather relocate to poorer nations in which they could keep profits or exceed them tenfold. Globalisation leads to the reallocation of corporations. In less hostile environments, these corporate conglomerates can destroy and manipulate the environment to their pleasing and will not be accused for they supply many jobs in a poor nation that needs income to fuel its economy.

This global mobility allows corporations to escape environmental policy. The acceleration of jobless growth in poor nations leads to unemployment, creating pressures that allow economic activity that is destructive as well as it undermines efforts of mitigation, planning, and regulatory enforcement.12 Environmental policy with absence of enforcement leads to the lack of interest in enforcement. The NAFTA agreement, the elimination of tariffs among trading countries, between the United States, Canada, and the developing Mexico is a good example of how businesses escape strict policy. Because of Mexicos low wage enforcement and anti-union government, environmental policy falls prey to lower standards and enforcement.13 The nation really does feel opposed to the destruction but if they fail to allow industries to do so they will lose business to glo …