Globalization as the tool to make the world more sustainable

It might be perfectly clear that globalization to a great extent has a cause the climate change that we currently experience. Let’s face it. Because of globalization the distance between countries and people has, so to speak, decreased. Millions of people regularly take a flight, either for holidays, business or to visit family and friends. Flying, however, is extremely polluting and in fact very bad for the environment.

Also, because of globalization many products we use and eat are in fact produced at another place in the world. As the production costs in other places are lower, they are produced there and then transported to the country where the products are sold. This entire chain of transportation is also very bad for the environment. Just remember that not so long ago, we mainly consumed products that were made locally.

In Europe, for example, we never ate avocados until recently. Because of its nutrition, the avocados have gained a lot of popularity in Europa and the United States, resulting in the skyrocketing of sales and, consequently, production. As a result, local environmental decay is emerging in the production countries in Latin America. The transportation of avocados is very costly and a delicate matter. It is damaging the environment. In the transportation process, many avocado’s end up not having the right quality to be sold. They have rotten in the ships or airplanes that transported them to Europa. These fruits are thrown away. Globalization, in this way, causes a chain of pollution and negative environmental effects.

This may be clear to most of you.

As globalization increases, the living standards in second and third world countries are increasing. These people desire the living standards as they are in first world countries. They also want cheap stuff. They want products from all over the world. They want to own a car, a smartphone, a laptop, travel the world, etc. And for your information: the second world countries contain the larger part of the world population. Climate change could increase substantially in de decades to come.

However, could globalization also help in making the world more sustainable?

Counter globalization steps are probably impossible. There is no way that human rationality is going to change direction. We all want more. We all want a comfortable life. We all want to travel and see the world. Globalization, as in the integration of the world, will only increase.

Can globalization, then, be used to make growth more sustainable?

Communication technologies

Many people all over the world have a smartphone. Many people all over the world have access to internet. They are all connected. They have Facebook, Whatsapp or other sorts of social media accounts. A great product of globalization is that the imaginary distance between people on our planet has is in fact decreased the last couple of years and is now quite small.

Very easily I can communicate with people all over the world. The Ask Why Why Not? movement is only a very good example of the growing importance of communication technology.

Can this effect of globalization be used to counter the negative effect of globalization on sustainability?

It is an interesting point brought up by Kyllian Pather in his video on Ask Why Why Not? on Youtube, which can be seen here.

The digital distance between world citizens is so small nowadays. With only a little effort a message can be spread to people all over the world. This is a result of globalization. Internet is gaining more users and gaining importance on a global scale. Internet, in fact, is being seen more and more as a first need in order to survive. I don’t totally agree with that, but internet is a way for a poor person to escape poverty by connecting to the world from his or her home, wherever in the world this home might be located.

If nothing is done, the citizens of upcoming economies as India and China (that is at least 1/3 of the world population) will strive to have the same lifestyle as European or Northern American people. Before they will succeed in that, the world will probably have disappeared. Our climate cannot handle this kind of behaviour.

Why not use internet and social media to spread more sustainable and environmental ways of living under the citizens of India en China, and especially under young citizens? Show a different lifestyle, in which not discovering new countries and cultures, but to discover your own country and culture is the cool thing to do? Or a way of living that is not played in the digital realm, but we go back to interact face-to-face? Or a city in which polluting vehicles are changed for electric vehicles, because it improves the air quality in big cities in Asia and around the world?

It’s all about showing the other side of the coin. We should not focus on the polluting societies and the ways of living in Europa and North America, because they will worsen our living environment. We should invent a new way of living and use technology to spread this way of living.

Minorities can be given a voice through internet and technology. Globalization allows us to be connected to this global way of thinking. This is the way forward (Gordon Brown)

It is up to the young generations

We should do it differently. We are global citizens. The world is directed towards destroying its key features: our climate. We, as young generations, as the citizens of the future, should do it differently. We should redirect our path. We should make sure our future is secure and safe. We should make sure that we are able to survive and reach an old age. If we don’t put an effort into achieving a more sustainable world, who will?

In fact, the younger generations, millennials, are the most sustainability conscious generation yet. Globalization and the digital world of internet teaches us what the consequences are of our actions. We know. Therefore we should act!

The beautiful thing about the Ask Why Why Not-movement is that younger people all over the world are challenged to ask critical questions to themselves. Why do you do certain things the way you do? What are the consequences of your actions or desires? Do you really support the effects of your style of living? Be critical and be self-reflecting. But also: spread the word to people around you or young people all around the world. Technology is our thing, so let’s use it!