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Negative Effects of Globalization - Chemical Waste and Air Pollution

Updated on August 2, 2010

Negative Effects of Globalization - Chemical Waste and Air Pollution

Economic activity often result in the negative effects of globalization, such as chemical waste and air pollution. Still, the cost of cleaning these effects up is not included in the price of a product. In many cases, specifically in the developing world, manafacturers take advantage of lax regulations and cause air pollution and chemical waste without restraint.

Some economists studying globalization have come up with a theory that this behaviour follows a pattern first discovered by economist Simon Kuznets. According to Kuznets' theory income inequality keeps increasing with per capita income until a critical income level is reached, after which inequality declines again. The graphic representation of the Kuznets theory is called the Kuznets curve, and it resembles a bell curve.

If Kuznets logic can also be applied to the relationship between income and environment, it results in a 'environmental' Kuznets curve, which shows the negative environmental effects rising with per capita income. But once a tipping point is reached, a higher per capita income start correlating with an improving environment. This can clearly be observed in developing nations where per capita income is low, and more pressing social needs enjoys priority over environmental regulation. For a while economic development means more negative environmental effects like air pollution and chemical waste, but as soon as a country becomes more developed, more regulations are set in place to protect the environment. First, environmental harm is stabilized, and as income rises further, some of the new wealth is used to reverse the damage already done.

This theory holds important implications for the debate about global warming, because it implies that greenhouse emissions from developing countries(especially China and India) will continue until a tipping point in per capita income is arrived at. It turns out that very little empirical evidence exists to prove this theory however. The relationship this theory describes has so far been shown to only apply to urban concentrations of sulfur dioxide.

The environmental Kuznets theory rests on two assumptions, which is that environmentally friendly production is more expensive than environmentally unfriendly production, and that poor countries can't afford environmentally safe production until they reach a certain income level. These assumptions could be false however. Denmark's economy have recently grown by 50% without an increase in greenhouse emissions, thereby disproving the first assumption. Denmark achieved this by shifting 22% of its electricity generation to wind power. The success of ecolabeling, a market-orientated program that promotes environmentally friendly products, also suggests that economic growth does not always have to coincide with environmental harm.

The environmental Kuznets theory states that economic growth in poor countries will always coincide with negative environmental effects until a certain income level is reached.

Kuznets Curve

Source: The Bedside Baccalaureate 

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    • profile image


      5 years ago


    • pramodgokhale profile image


      6 years ago from Pune( India)

      I admire Globalization and India an emerging economy needs anything that helps to reach our developemnt goal.Rich and poor gap still exists and even though free flow of capital, technolgy and knowledge from one point of world to another, inequality remains.

      Rich nations are making some poor nations as a dumping ground for toxic waste , nuclear waste. Carbon emission is an issue where USA is pushing India and China to reduce emission, but it is one way. USA has more automobiles than India and China per head, USA insists on quanity but not individual emission.

      Survival of the fittest law still prevails in globalization then developed nations will enjoy benefit at the cost of poor nations.

    • pandula77 profile image

      Dr Pandula 

      8 years ago from Norway

      Interesting! However, the problem is, no one knows when the tipping off point would be reached and in the present context, having a large population would mean the tipping off point would be far higher than that for most developed countries.

    • profile image

      IT IS GOOD 

      8 years ago


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is an interesting theory actually, but responding with apathy in response to the promise of future action isn't exactly a proactive strategy towards combating global pollution. As this is a global problem, the countries with the greatest economic stability should help countries below basic environmental standards to clean up their means of production.

      I can also see a hole in this argument. Countries like China have reached this supposed tipping point where they should start bringing environmental standards to the forefront of their concerns, but the imbalance of power within their government prevents this. For example the Ministries in-charge of economic growth have far more power than the Ministries in-charge of environmental protection, resulting in the continuing poor enforcement of environmental standards. So what is the solution to this?

      Should the UN be allowed to create a baseline international set of environmental standards to combat this global pollution problem? As pollution affects every present and future person on planet Earth I say yes. Thoughts?

    • profile image

      Effects of air pollution 

      9 years ago

      The effects of air pollution are diverse and numerous. Air pollution can have serious consequences for the health of human beings, and also severely affects natural ecosystems. Because it is located in the atmosphere, air pollution is able to travel easily. As a result, air pollution is a global problem and has been the subject of global cooperation and conflict.

    • Alma Cabase profile image

      Alma Cabase 

      9 years ago from Philippines

      This is such an alarming issue and need not to be limited to words alone but action should follow as well.

    • profile image


      9 years ago


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Veryyyyyyy Nice

    • sir slave profile image

      sir slave 

      9 years ago from Trinity county CA.

      I didn't hear you mention the word "empire" in any of your globalization writings?? what gives? we ARE an empire with client states and a "sphere of influence"

      globalization(to me) means re-inforcing the corporate status quo. yes corruption is most pervasive in Africa, but no country is clean!! power corrupts!! period!

    • mecheshier profile image


      9 years ago

      Very informative article. Thank you!

    • prasadjain profile image


      9 years ago from Tumkur

      This is a true account. i appreciate author's efforts in collecting the facts and presenting it in cogent manner.

      The effects of Globalisation are multi-dimentional.They have replaced small scale venders by multinational companies. Goods needed for daily use have become costlier.Medicines have become costly. Unnecessery technologies have pushed out simple technics by which dagnosis was being made.Simple things have become complicated.

    • Your Knowledge profile imageAUTHOR

      Your Knowledge 

      9 years ago

      Thank you Elliot John ;)

    • profile image

      Elliot John 

      10 years ago

      yes that is very true, its very nice of you for sharing such superb knowledge, being in chemicals industry i also feel bad about this pollution and all

    • Info Bucket profile image

      Info Bucket 

      10 years ago from Kerala, India

      Hi Your Knowledge, i am very interested with your hub, and i would like invite you to write on my blog. I will give backlink to your hubs and you'll be the author of the article. If you are interested, Contact me.

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      10 years ago from Fontana, WI

      I enjoyed learning about the Kuznets Curve. Denmark is a fascinating place and the exception. Is Denmark's wind power as ugly as the wind power here in the States? I find the airplane structures visual pollution to God's landscape - love helping the environment.

    • nick247 profile image


      10 years ago from United Kingdom

      Interesting argument, the problem with pointing at Denmark however is that it was already a developed economy, whereas economies like India and China are essentially going through the industrial revolution that Anglo-Saxon countries went through in the 19th Century. The problem with global warming is that if we wait for the tipping point of per capita income, it may well be too late. We're already lagging behind in developed economies.


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