Air Pollution in relation to Globalization


AirPollution in relation to Globalization

Airpollution at the global level is caused by the same factors thatcause air pollution at the local level. In fact air pollutants thatcause deaths around the world are an aggregate of small cases ofpollution that take place in each country (Bickerstaff &amp Walker,2003). Thus, as the old adage goes, the entire street would be cleanif every person swept at their doorstep. Similarly, air pollution isa global problem that needs the effort of individual countries toimplement the international position on industrial emissions. Forinstance, industrial countries that emit huge amounts of airpollutants should adhere to the Kyoto protocol an internationalagreement that set a roadmap through individual countries can reduceair pollutants (Wheeler, 2001). The whole world marvels at thecapabilities that globalization has created. Globalization has madebusiness more profitable due to increased levels of production due totechnology sharing, an expanded market for producers, and enhancementin information technologies. The success of globalization has alsoled a more polluted environment, especially the quality of air, whichhas become more harmful to human health since the entrenchment ofglobalization in international business. Thus, as the world sharesthe fruits of a larger global market, it also shares the harmfuleffects of air pollution.

Asmuch as human activities are responsible for the larger portion ofair pollutants emissions, there are also other natural causes. Someof the natural phenomena that emit poisonous gases and particles intothe atmosphere around the world are volcanic eruptions, pollendispersal, and wind erosion, evaporation of organic compounds, forestfires, and natural radioactivity. Emissions from industrial andmanufacturing processes: Considering that the world is still in thepetroleum age, where almost all the processes are dependent of oil,industries release smoke and fumes into the atmosphere. Industriescountries in North America, Europe, and the Far East immenselycontribute to air pollution. Carbon monoxide and other organiccompounds reduce the quality of air that humans breathe, especiallyfor populations that live adjacent to industries. Hydrocarbonparticles emitted into atmosphere clog in the air sacs in human lungscausing diseases such as asthma and lung cancer. According to theWorld Health Organization, there are 1.3 million deaths per year as aresult of air pollution, an equivalent to the number of deaths fromcar accidents (Fidler, 2001).

TheWHO report that large cities around the world contribute to 80% ofglobal fatal pollutants. The pollutants cause lung disease(McMichael, 2000). The pollutants come from cars, buses, motorcycles,and other vehicles on the road. The emission form such automobileshave both primary and secondary pollutants. Burning of fossil fuelsis, therefore, the largest contributor to air pollution and also themost difficult to control because the industries that emit pollutantsare also essential for production and livelihoods (Gan, 2003).Chemicals from farming activities and households: Some of thehousehold chemicals that pollute air are household cleaning products,fumigating homes, painting supplies, and crop dusting,over-the-counter insecticides, and fertilizer dust. Many a time,people use them without having sufficient ventilation and protectivegear. As a way of reducing air pollution as a result ofglobalization, regional control strategies should aim to reduce thefollowing common air pollutants. Controlling the emission of thesepollutants at the regional level leads to a reduction in theaggregate level of global emissions. Carbon monoxide inhibitssufficient oxygen from reaching body organs and tissues. I t alsoworsens the possibility of heart disease. Ground level ozone is asecondary pollutant that occurs as a result of a reaction betweenvolatile organic compounds (VOC) and nitrogen oxides in the presenceof solar energy. Ground level ozone tampers with the functioning ofthe lungs and other respiratory symptoms such as asthma. Lead is ahard metal emitted by metal refineries, burning of leaded gasoline inaircraft engines, battery factories, and waste incarcerators.Nitrogen oxides originate from fuel combustion and emitted into theatmosphere. Nitrogen oxides cause respiratory problems and also thevulnerability of affected individuals to lung infections.

Increasedeconomic activities as a result of the huge global market had for along time overshadowed the vital concerns about air pollution. Beforeenvironmentalists began to raise red flags about the extremes thatglobal and local firms had begun to reach, it was all fun fair forenthusiasts of globalization. Everybody only paid attention to thebenefits and forgot the devastating effects that air pollutants thatair pollutants had had on the health of millions of people across theworld. The effects discussed above are now in the public domain.However, the cost of mitigating the effects is normally not part ofthe cost of production that affects the price of products fromindustries that emit the pollutants. Many a time, especially in thedeveloping world, industry leaders exploit the lax in regulations tofurther emit the pollutants into the air knowing that they would facelittle or no restraint.

Thebest way to explain the damning effects of air pollution as a resultof globalization is borrow a few concepts from modern economists. Themodern economists allude to Simon Kuznets’s theory that assertedthat income inequality increases with increase in per capita incomeup to a certain point where the individual and the population attainsa critical level of income (Dinda, 2004). After attaining thecritical level of income, per capita income begins to decline. Theresultant curve that illustrates this theory is a bell-shaped curvewith the peak representing the critical income. The same concept canbe useful in explaining the relationship between globalization andair pollution. For convenience, one call this the “environmental’Kuznets’s curve, which shows an increase in air pollution as incomerise in countries that benefit much from the global market. Once thetipping point of environmental pollution is reached, countries withthe highest income begin to realize reduced levels of air pollutionbecause they have the resources and capacity to mitigate the effectsof pollution. This explains why developed countries have a moredeveloped regulatory environment that seeks to protect theenvironment.

Inconclusion, the improvements of life as a result of globalizationhave another side that the world must deal with: air pollution. Airpollution is an environmental concern all over the world. In fact ithas become increasingly vital to liken sustainability withdevelopment. Development is no longer perceived only in profitabilityterms, but also through sustainability. A sustainable industry incontemporary terms is one that has production modes that aresensitive to the environmental issues and air pollution is a criticalaspect because emissions into the atmosphere contribute to a greaterpart of early deaths. Thus, the vitality of the control the emissionof air pollutants lies in the immense effects they have had on thequality of life. Millions of people have died of respiratory diseasessuch as asthma, lung cancer, and bronchitis. Interestingly, producerson the global stage are still grappling with the best way to strike abalance between sustainable production methods that reduce theemission of air pollutants and producing enough for the surgingdemand due to globalization.


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Gan,L. (2003). Globalization of the automobile industry in China:dynamics and barriers in greening of the road transportation. Energypolicy,31(6),537-551.

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Wheeler,D. (2001). Racing to the bottom? Foreign investment and air pollutionin developing countries. TheJournal of Environment &amp Development,10(3),225-245.