Globalization and Rethinking of Environmental Consumption From a Sustainability Perspective

Globalization and Rethinking of Environmental Consumption From a Sustainability Perspective

Luke A. Amadi (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria) and Prince Ikechukwu Igwe (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3990-2.ch001


Sustainable environmental consumption has been a marginalized concept in international development studies and cooperation. In recent decades, there has been growing interest in identifying robust indicators that demonstrate the evidence of globalization and unsustainable environmental consumption. Globalization is premised on integrating the world into a global village. Various dimensions of globalization have different effects on the ecosystem. Plausible evidence linking globalization trajectories into practical interactions suggesting sustainable environmental consumption has been less lucid as the effects of globalization on the ecological environment does not provide clear patterns. This hugely significant problem has reopened critical debates on novel thinking on dynamics of environmental consumption patterns of the affluent societies in the era of globalization and its implications on environmental sustainability. This chapter deployed content analysis methodology and political ecology framework to review and analyze seminal studies on sustainable consumption and globalization, including relevant globalization indexes. The aim is to provide evidence of the impact of globalization on environmental consumption. The chapter suggests that globalization results in asymmetrical and deleterious natural resource extraction between the affluent North and poor South. It offered alternative thinking in which sustained policy framings and international development collaboration could be institutionalized to strengthen sustainable environmental consumption one which is premised on ecological justice and natural resource equality.
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Introduction: Globalization And Environmental Sustainability Inertia

Environmental consumption appears to be one of the most pressing sustainability challenges of our times particularly in the era of globalization. The evidence suggesting how globalization undermines sustainable environmental consumption has been scant and less clear. Despite the debates on ecological footprints which provide evidence that humanity’s environmental footprint is highly un-sustainable and that radical changes in the global human organization are necessary (Hoekstra & Wiedmann, 2014). It appears the patterns of consumption in the ongoing globalization point to the opposite direction, this stimulates research curiosity.

Globalization and its effects have different interpretations by different stakeholders. For instance, in the global climate change dialogue, Eco Watch a leading US environmental news site reported in the month of March,2017 that Scott Pruitt, the new head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), does not think that carbon dioxide is a “primary contributor” to climate change—even though the actual science says it is (Chow, 2017).However, most scientists – especially those working in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – believe that increases in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from human activity are the primary cause of global warming(OECD, 2013).

There are several perspectives and definitions of globalization, Rennen and Martens (2003) posit that globalization is the intensification of cross-national interactions that promote the establishment of trans-national structures and the global integration of cultural, economic, ecological, political, technological and social processes on global, supra-national, national, regional and local levels. Studies linking environmental consumption to globalization provide a number of useful insights. Ecologist, Katrina Rogers (1995) linked ecological breakdown to multinational corporations which have ecological security implications. Rogers(1995)argued that “ecological security refers to the creation of a condition where the physical surroundings of a community provide for the needs of its inhabitants without diminishing its natural stock”.

Similarly, scholars of environmental consumption have come close circle with the effects of consumption on the environment. Stern (1997) explored the environmental impacts of consumption and argued that it is “rooted partly in environmental high politics”. He examined a broad disciplinary definition of consumption and noted the particular case of ecological perspective which builds on Vitousek, et al., (1986) who argued that any organism that obtains its energy by eating is a consumer. Human consumption corresponds to what humanity does with the estimated 40 percent of global terrestrial net primary productivity (NPP) that we “appropriate”. Stern (1997) provides a broader definition which emphasizes the “environmental impact of human choices and actions” (rather than of consumption alone) as the object of research and demonstrates that choices and actions which affect the environment are integral to environmental consumption.

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