Discuss the history of human use and abuse of the environment in the last five hundred years. Have things improved, or gotten worse? What have been the main causes of environmental decline or improvement? Be specific. So as to understand the opportunities and challenges posed by man and his use of the environment in the past five hundred years, it is crucial to look at the effects of technology, demographic changes, climate, disease, and periods of warfare, cultural practices and human attitudes towards the environment.
In understanding the current situation, such as global warming, heat waves, tsunamis and flash floods, it is crucial to analyze the past periods, such as 500 years ago to present times. This is crucial if the current and future generations are to avert all dangers as posed in times such as those in the Roman Empire or later times such as the 16th Century. Human history is characterized by rise and decline of great civilizations such as Roman Empire, wars like the World Wars and catastrophic natural disasters. For instance, the availability of clean and safe water in any Fort during wars fought in past centuries could be deterred by a siege.
The past five hundred years have brought about great changes in temperature swings. Expanding the focus to the preceding times in the14th Century, the Medieval Warm Period came to an end in Europe characterized by rainy autumns, unusually wet summers and very cold springs which slowed down expansion of urban centers due to decreased crop production. This was coupled by the Locust Invasion, the millennium flood and Black Death therefore leading to a significant impact on the 15th and 16th Century human trends as there was open anti-Semitism and systematic discrimination. In such times, agriculture was abandoned leading to the expansion of forests.
Arguably, this paved way for better employee rights and improved land rights in the enlightenment period culminating to the modern age. The Little Ice Age is perhaps one of the crucial periods that affected the availability of food, hence necessitating the laying of the groundwork for economic, technological and political mechanisms via which to tackle challenges posed by the environment. In particular, the 1788-1795 ENSO occurrences had its effects felt in as far as the then British colonies such as Australia, Mexico and the Indian monsoon region.
In recent periods, such as the 20th Century, the abuse of the environment can best be modeled by the two World Wars and the Great Depression. In addition, the failure in Soviet food production such as wheat and grain production in the United States are sure indicators of environmental misuse. Variations in increase in Carbon Dioxide have been observed to vary with environmental changes. During El Nino, CO2 builds more rapidly due to the effect on terrestrial ecosystems. Reduction in the use of fossil fuel, such as when the Soviet Union broke up and in the oil shock of the 1970s, have been observed to be crucial in reducing the build up of CO2.
It is evident that environmental abuse has increased in the last few years due to changes in technology and political strategies. This can be correctly clarified by the use of advanced measuring instruments designed in recent years. The Great Acceleration in the 20th and 21st Century characterized by rapid changes in human population, growth of powerful economies and the heavy use of natural resources has been experienced all over the world in large scale. Bombings since First World War, the catastrophic Second World War bombs in Japan, the Chernobyl Disaster, United States bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan and most recently, the launching of air missiles in Libya are sufficient evidence of increased environmental neglect and misuse. Not only are CO2 levels rising but also the ozone layer is getting depleted hence exposing humans to more diseases such as skin cancer.
The Great Acceleration was mainly triggered by rapid population growth, availability of cheap sources of energy and liberal economies. By the end of the 20th Century, this had resulted in various environmental effects such as loss of biodiversity, climate changes, larger population than some parts of the earth could sustainably hold, environmental toxicity, overfishing, loss of habitats and changes in the ecosystem. If human activities either due to globalization or population are not put in check, then environmental degradation will be far much worse than that experienced in the early civilization years.
Discuss the process of globalization. What is it, and when did it begin? What are its main causes and consequences? What are its advantages and disadvantages? Globalization is the process whereby various societies and regions have been interlinked in their economies, cultures and technology via the provision of a worldwide market, transport, trade and communication. The international arena consists of various national economies integrated in trade, direct investments in foreign economies, migration technology transfer, military interaction and free capital inflows and outflows. It has mainly been driven by radical changes in the economy, technology, political, social cultural factors.
The term globalization came into effect in the 1950s and the 1960s as introduced by economists to imply the removal of barriers in international trade hence facilitating free trade and resource transfer between countries. It is still an ongoing process which keeps picking pace due to the rapid changes currently fueled by the overnight changes in technology and its rapid availability in far-flung areas mainly via the internet. The entire process of globalization has turned the world into a global village by facilitating the free flow of information. However, this has not been without various negative effects.
There are various positive effects due to globalization. First, competition amongst products has improved. This implies that the consumer has a wide variety of goods and service providers from whom to pick from. Hence, the consumer has the opportunity to get the best value for money. Domestic companies have to battle out with international companies for a market share. This compels them to raise production standards while lowering the price to an optimum. Therefore, only the best companies survive ensuring that the consumer remains supreme.
Secondly, globalization has availed multiple employment opportunities especially in developing countries (which are capital deficient). Global companies step in and invest in such markets, hence availing an opportunity for local labor who would have otherwise not been employed since there would have not been an investor in that particular market segment. However, this can also be viewed as a demerit since global companies easily phase out local firms thereby leading to loss of jobs for those working in such companies.
Thirdly, globalization has ensured that capital flows freely and that individuals can invest in foreign markets. Such is the case in India where multinationals have opened successful branches to cater for the large market. The companies have a choice to set up their plant in areas that production costs are minimal and ship their products to the market or chose a location according to market convenience.
Fourthly, globalization has been instrumental in enabling foreign trade. Due to an easy to trade with foreign exchange valuation rate, such as that availed by the stock exchange, countries can easily trade with each other without resulting to war and destruction of each other so as to acquire certain goods as witnessed in early civilizations.
Finally, globalization has been crucial in ensuring that technological know-how has been easily transferred between states. New inventions in fields such as medicine, production equipments and machines can easily reach other countries in a very short time span. In addition, expatriates can be hired from any country to help in training other persons in the particular usage of a newly innovated device.
Globalization has however posed various challenges. First, developing nations avail a cheaper source of labor for multinationals. Such is the case in the computer industry in China where most employees have been outsourced from developing nations like India as programmers, system analysts and software engineers. This implies that citizens of such countries lose job opportunities that would have otherwise been allocated to them.
Secondly, competition has resulted in the need for firm to hire staff members who are at the peak of their production capacity. Hence, employees live in the permanent fear of losing their jobs which has brought about job insecurity. Companies can easily outsource employees all over the world which has not only increased insecurity but also reduced wages across ranks. The need to produce cheaper high quality goods has also compromised working conditions and encouraged the use of children and prisoners in the production process who are either not paid or poorly paid.
Thirdly, terrorism has benefitted from the wide range of advanced weaponry available in the market. In addition, acquiring knowledge has been simplified by the Internet. This has largely been responsible for the increased terrorist attacks even on countries that have put in place highly efficient systems to monitor such attacks.
Fourthly, globalization has taken its toll on health. Most persons consume junk food high in cholesterol and fats as they attempt to increase their working hours. Further, genetically modified foods, which have been proven to have various negative effects on one’s health, have gained popularity due to the fact that they are easily produced and consumed.
Finally, globalization has been linked to pollution. Some companies, in order to reduce production costs, have set up their plants in countries that do not have proper anti-pollution laws or such laws are in place but not properly enforced. This leads to environmental degradation as these wastes are released directly to the air, on land and in water bodies untreated.
The twentieth century has sometimes been called the bloodiest century of modern history. What do you think of this characterization? Was there more warfare or violence in the twentieth century than before? If so, what were the causes of such an increase? If not, why does it seem that way to some people, and what are they missing?
It is first quite sensible to notice the exact period within the twentieth century scope. This was from the year 1901 up to December 31st in the year 2000. This given period is normally associated with wars and untold shedding of blood, terrorism and all sorts of terrible works by varied groups of terrorists. Those of the optimists among the existing scholars, who normally believe in the particular inevitable man’s progress, tend to either ignore or forget the fact that the twentieth century was the bloodiest, and the century that can be termed as the most destructive in human history. This is well comprehended considering the century’s two world wars that claimed over 60 million lives of people. A civil war that broke up in Russia in the year 1917-21 claimed over 5 million lives of innocent people. It was in the same century that the tyrannical regimes of people like Hitler, Mao and Stalin were responsible for the murder of 60 million people. Other millions of people died in other smaller conflicts.
Paul Johnson, who was a British historian, in one of his remarkable books, Modern Times, connected the twentieth century’s great death toll to the large growth with regard to the organized state power, drop of the Traditional Religion, and then rising of totalitarian ideologies and gangster-states-men. Still there was another book, still from a British historian by the name Niall Ferguson, he pointed out three causes to explain the trend. They included empires in decline, ethnic conflict and economic vitality. Just like the Johnson’s Modern Times, Ferguson’s ‘The War of The World: Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, tends to merge the economic, political, military and geopolitical analyses regarding to the main global events of the twentieth century.
Ferguson’s figures out that multinational empire in Europe happened to be the dominants of a world that was economically inter-depended, and this made it possible for them to bring under control half of the world’s land surface and half of the world’s population. However the ethnic, economic, demographic and some other political factors, particularly in the Eastern and central Europe came together to just undermine the existing imperial rule, and at the same time the geopolitical factors resulted to the empires’ clash in both Asia and the Europe (Tanner 2).
Considering the period before the setting off of the twentieth century, some of the brutal mass killings were yet to be witnessed and this well distinguishes the times before from the twentieth century and subsequently this makes it be known to be the bloodiest century. Take for example the highly combustible mix that terribly exploded in 1914, triggering the Great War, which, just like Ferguson put it, “changed everything.” Apparently globalization came to an end. Emigration, Investment and International Trade collapsed. War battles, which entailed the use of deadly weapons like poison gas and deadly chemical weapons, led to great numbers of casualties and ensuing ethnic conflicts, particularly with regard to the Eastern and Central Europe, led to production of savage atrocities and considering the Turkish America, what met the eye was genocide.
Still referring to another different but deadly war that took place during the twentieth century; this is none other than the Second World War that began in September 1939 with Poland being invaded by Hitler, and in July 7, 1937, when a full time war broke out between Japan and China. Military forces from Japan went ahead to occupy much parts of China’s east coast and further inflicted the savage brutalities upon the Chinese population. Chinese civilians and Soldiers were time to time beheaded, burned and even buried alive. It was saddening to see some get hanged by their tongues on metal hooks. Around the Nanking city in 1937-38, young girls and even women were tormented though organized mass rape and murder. This were events that were totally weird and shocking considering that those who lived before the twentieth century witnessed that world had completely changed and that nothing was in order and the entire experiences guarantee the terming of the twentieth century as the bloodiest century.