The global South has unquestionably been one of the regions that have experienced greater impact of environmental degradation. The former economic success in this area has resulted to environmental problem industrial waste pollution. As these countries get more involved in multilateral environmental agreement and voluntary agreement, the protection of the environment in the region has effectively become globalize in nature and has affected business and international trade. The introduction of the environmental management system standard is one of the prerequisite for business to enter into western market. This has been a greater challenge to this region due to their insufficient capital and the stern conditions attach to business. This paper looks at the impact of environmental degradation on global South in terms of how environment degradation affects human security, clean water, human health, social relation, and the freedom of choice and action. This research paper also provides recommendation that be adapted by the both developing and developed countries in controlling the adverse effects of the environment degradation.
Since 1980s, the environmental matter as trade barriers between the North and the South countries has feature prominently in the world international forums
Developing countries that struggles to improve their economies and attract more investors to enhance their economies is term as pollution haven. The word pollution haven as proposed by Zarsky (1997, 1999) is a claimed that the South have reduced and relaxed their environmental regulation to attract foreign investors. The southern countries which are endowed with lots of natural resources has long been staying under poverty and the only way to be out of this situation is opening up their economies and speed up industrialization development through the foreign investors. On the other hand, the North countries business feared that if the developing countries lower cost of operation through labour intensive and resources then they stand a chance to lose value or capture the market. The developed countries argued that they have more severe and effective regulations on environmental (Duchin et al., 1995, Xu, 2000) compare to the developing countres, but the World Trade Organization has protected the exported products from developing countries. The North claims that this is unfair business and they requested global environmental standard to form level playing field (Chudnovsky and Lopez 1999; Xu 2000). This claim however was seen as another form of trade barriers by the developing countres.
The environmental problems such as climate change and ozone layer depletion is global issue rather than situated in a particular place. We see integration of the consequences of market and the failure of government in the change of global environmental. There is a lot divergence tendency due to disparate impacts across the locations in a manner of governance response. This disparate come from a greater vulnerability of developing countries and at the same time from the circumstantial factors. Even if the environmental impacts were equally distributed between the North and South countries, the developing countries could still suffer most in the virtue of the fact that they come from a lower economical base. The impacts of the environmental degradation the (IPCC (2001) observed are expected to be greater in south countries in terms of loss of life and relative effects on the investment and the economy in general.
These disparate impacts are exacerbated by the disparities in the nature of the remedial actions. The willingness of the developed countries to the environmental improvement and for the goods and services whose production has resulted to environmental degradation, generally exceed that of the developing countries in terms of their ability to pay. Thus in the shadow of markets, the gain-cost analysis, that is, the benefits of producing the carbondioxide by driving automobiles in the North highways may outweigh the cost of drought in the South countries. This wealth-based theory is contrast to the call for equal entitlement to clean and safe environment (Boyce, 2002).
In the real sense, efficiency is not the only criterion to social decisions that include the decisions to invest in the mitigation and adaptation to the global environmental degradation. The influence of politics also promotes actions on some importance matters and inaction on others. For example, the 1997 Montreal protocol on ozone depletion proposed a worldwide phase out of the use of chlofluorocarborns was rejected by America and Canada on the ground that the scientific evidence are uncertain and the treaty would impose heavy spending on the US economy. As the rate of the carbondioxide emitted to the environment continues to rise, the focus of the international has shifted from prevention to adaptation. This change increases probability of outcomes that varies across countries, showing differences in their ability to cater for measures required to adapt to climate degradation.
The main issue in the international climate talks is the right of allocating the properties to the carbon absorptive capacity of the atmosphere. These relay both barrier and an opportunity to some countries. For instance the principles allocation stemmed from the historical emission levels which in the real sense been greatly contributed by the industrialized countries in the world in the North. This principle is not acceptable by the less developed countries that per capita emission is very little.
Environmental degradation and Human Security
The environmental degradation arise in the 29th century as the main issue of political controversy, its influence on the developing countries national security policy is however more recent. Environment degradation has been the focus in the developed countries especially United State but the idea of national security entered the public discourse reentry. The early research of the impact of environment degradation on human security is general and subjective in nature, it reveal the imaginable association between environmental change and the national or human security. However, the direction of association and the degree of linkage remains an issue of debate. There is also clear recommendation on how to translate this linkage into policy guidance on the environmental degradation.
The environmental degradation is linked to their overall influence of the survival of human, well-being and productivity. Human being and social linkages has become the focus that is to be secured from the environment threat. The change in the environment can impose direct and immediate impact to the life humankind. For instance, the scarcity of water may not lead to conflict but still engender threats by causing the dehydration related disorders, reduction of the production of food, and disheartening the livelihood opportunities. The environmental degradation causes threat to human survival, well-being and dignity. The environmental degradation posses a variety of impacts that ranges from economic productivity to political wavering among others. The environmental degradation can also affects a diversity of issues ranging from families, communities, social organizations, various identity group, diasporas, government and biological species of various kinds. While some of the environmental threats are localized, others are extensive ands trans-scale in nature. Research shows that conflict can be driven by natural resource degradation and scarcity and by competing to be in charge of places where there are abundant resources. Some of the countries of concern are Afghanistan, Iraq, the great lake regions, Somalia among others. The connections between the environmental degradation and human security are vast and complex. The ecological impact of mass movement of refugees or warfare is an example mostly experienced in the developing countries. However, the environmental issues can be a major concerns for dialogue, non-military mechanisms for communication, and greater unified understanding. The research on the human security has mainly focus on the Southern world (poor countries) as the main victim and the scoundrel of the environmental threats. However, the attitudes of consumption of the North countries is main contributor to many human insecurity on the scarce and plenty resources in the Southern countries. The conflict over diamonds in Sierra Leone in 1990s, for example, was extensive because the markets for diamond in the developed countries were unaware to the origin of those diamonds. It is clear that the start of violent conflict has no hearty connection with the environmental threat. The environmental factors are rarely the single contributors of conflict, but ethnicity, ideology, and power politics are all directly linked. However, environmental degradation increases the magnitude and the period of conflict, that is, the attempts to develop strong empirical forecasts of conflict on the ground on the environmental threats have had a poor response of success because of the connection of social, economic and political factors that are involved.
Environmental degradation and clean water
Although most of the developing countries do not have enough industries to create considerable water pollution, smog and heavy concentrations of airborne particles are common incident in major cities of the less developed countries. There are few industries in the less developed countries as compared to the more developed countries and hence due to the small number of industries in the developing countries, they less often contribute to severe water problems. The more severe problems of water is cause by the trans-boundary pollution since the neighboring countries especially the developed countries, produces airborne pollution due to excess emission from their extensive industries. The northern and northwestern parts in Afghanistan for example received large amount of pollutants that come from the Aral sedimentary basin. Extensive industrializations in the developed countries here as we see pose detrimental impact to the less developed countries. It has been documented that the pesticides originating from the developed countries finds their way to the neighboring developing countries through the air current or rainfall.
The chemical weapons that were used for example during the war between the Afghanistan and the Soviets had caused a serious damage to the environment and the fragile ecosystem in general in the neighboring developing countries. The use of these chemicals weapons has polluted the soil in most of the area of the countries where this war occurred.
It is worth noting that billions of people worldwide, the vast prevalence of who live in developing countries lack access to clean drinking water. Lack of providence to quality water has caused lots of forecaster of infant and child survival in various developing countries. Many incidences of parasitic and contagious disorders are carried in the organic water pollution, which are the by-products of the animals waste. The effects of pollution whether known or not are caused by usage of the pesticides. The organic pollutants used in the industry and in agricultural farms find there way into the human and the animals fatty tissue where they caused severe parasite related disorders in human and animals respectively.
Export dependency has a negative influence on the quality of the domestic environment of the developing countries that include the quality of the drinking water in those countries. Thus, the association between the universal dependence and the water quality is interceded by several factors. The quality of water and health is very crucial and they are connected with other factors that are a function of international processes. Hebert, 1994 observed that virtually every physical quality of life including clean water mostly improved by the level of economic development of a country. The development of a country depends on its position in the world system. An important concept is how it organized its economy. The more lateral to the world economy the more likely the country is to depend on an agrarian economy.
Environmental change can have a detrimental impact on people’s lives ands the changes may even transcend into the future to affects the lives of the cohort to come. Water as a resource here provides a good example of these various impacts and their multifaceted interaction. The research revealed that over 2 billions people resides in water stressed basins and are cross-country, multi- -subjects effects and multiple impacts.
Environmental degradation and social relation
The distribution of power related variables, like income, education, race and ethnicity are related to the environmental stresses. The societies, which comprise of people, illiterate people or come from the marginalized racial and social groups, will tend to have greater environmental threats than their friends whose residents are literate, wealthy, or belong to historical prevailing racial and ethnical groups. A research on this issue found that the inverse linked between the average incomes and the toxic harmful may occur from the market dynamics where the poor people are drawn to this location because of the properties of low values. A community with greater power dipatities has more environmental degradation. The disparity of power affects the strength and the duration of pollution and depletion of resources.
This study were focused by the research suggesting that the environmental degradation related with income and that the developed countries have reached to an extend beyond which more income gains are linked with the improvement of the environments. The only way to attained conducive environment in most countries is by becoming rich (Beckerman, 1992).
Torras and boyce (1998) investigate the impacts of social relation on the environmental quality. They analyzed the vitiations in air pollution in various countries, water pollution, and the percentage of the pollution in relation to access to clean water and sanitations facilities. Apart from the per capita income and the ration of income distribution, their research included adult literacy and political rights and the civil liberties concerning the distribution of power. In less developed countries, the coefficient on the rights and literacy variables revealed the expected signs in all system. The results found that higher literacy and the greater rights were linked conducive environmental quality. By controlling other variables, the calculate effects of income inequality were found to be incompatible. It was suggested that either rights or literacy incarcerate the most aspect of power disparities or the quality of the income distribution data is poor. The weaker results was however, found on the developed countries, indicating that literacy and rights are most significant especially when there are low average income.
Other research has also shown that the political right can be vital factor to determine the outcomes of the environment. Scruggs (1998) observe greater rights of having a significant favorable effects on sulphure dioxide concentrations, weaker effects on particulates and adverse effects on the dissolve oxygen concentration. Further study concerning the impact of power disparities on the environmental quality which come from case study of the fifty United States by Boyce et al. (1999) shows that state with more equal distribution of power had well-built environmental policies which result to conducive environment.
Rapid environment degradation has exerted lot of pressure on the economic sustainability of the less developed countries. This has resulted to the failure of these countries achieving their sustainable development as targeted. In Pakistan, for example about sixteen percent of the land mass is subject to salinisation from excessive water with the same problems as this occurring in most parts of Asia and African countries. Mismanagement of irrigation alone in Pakistan cost over $200 millions in a year in reduced yields. In India, pumping of groundwater has enabled intensification of agricultural products; however, there is a big dropped of water tables from approximately 10 metres to about 15 metres below the earth surface in the year 1970 to between 400 and 450 metres by 1990. Many areas in developing countries have wells and boreholes that have been left and the entire communities moved to other better areas (Roy & Shah, 2002). Lack of environmental and pollution control has resulted to reduction in farming and disorders, which cause the decline in the economic growth in most regions of the developing countries. This is due to overspending of their little savings in the treatment of the patients suffering from pollution related diseases or purchase and imports of foods to filled the gap or feed the population. Such environmental degradation can have impacts on the social attitudes and may result to unrest by the affected communities. In 1990s, for example South Korea experienced over seventy anti-pollution unrest. China on the other hand has faced local protests due to rapid increase in pollution.
Developing countries has experienced a reduction of natural resources over the past years because of liquidated consumption. The research reveals that if the gains from the natural resources are put in physical capital and human capital to promote growth, then there will be a continued progress to enhance the wellbeing. It is important to save the profits that are derived from a boom of natural resource such as rapid increase in oil price. If this is wisely saved then it might be a better opportunities in the future to invest such profits efficiently to physical or human capital hence reducing more pressure on the resource base.
Environmental degradation and health risk
Majority of the people in developing country are poor and are directly exposed to severe environmental health threat and hazards from polluted air, water and animal-transmitted disorders such as bird flu, anthrax and the rest. There have been many concerns over the environmental improvement for the last decades with about eighty percent of people from developing countries are now able to access clean drinking water. However, the access to sanitation by these poor people has remained lower at an approximate of forty four percent. this may be a reason as per to why water pollutions remained the key problems. According World Bank (2005) most rivers in the developing countries are fifty percent lower than the WHO standard requirement. The environmentally related diseases in developing countries are now much greater than that from malnutrition. The research as founded that most of the women and children suffered greatly from the indoor air pollution resulting to millions premature deaths every year across the less developed countries. Children and illiterate women in poor households in the developing countries suffer 4 times as much from the indoor air pollution compare to men in the higher households (Das Gupta et al. 2004).
The health of human as well as that of animals is increasingly related in the developing countries when people meet animals especially when they moved out to wildlife site or into areas with intensive farming. Here wildlife acts as a mass where the pathogens come from as with avian bird flu and possible SARS and HIV/AIDS. The high rate of environmental degradation has posed the developing countries to high vulnerable risks and this will rise with rapid change in climate. The developing countries has over the past years experience range of climatic changes. Livelihoods and the social networks have adapted ways to cope with the severe natural disasters.
Management and control of floods has been essential in the fishing and farming practices by poor residents of the developing countries. Despite these efforts, the natural disasters have become more frequent and severe leading causing loses of life, conflict and the destructions of properties.
Environmental degradation is considered as the main cause of high rate of poverty in the less developed countries. They suffered most as they struggle adapt with this severe natural disasters. For instance, the slums residents occupied land, which is highly vulnerable to environmental hazards such as pollutions, landslides, and flood. Such areas are further aggravated by the damage to the protection assets like coastal mangrove, coral reefs and riverine wetlands which in results to high exposure to floods as seen in some countries such as Bangladesh, Siere Leon and the rest.
North countries like United State, Canada, or South countries such as China and India are the some of the emitters of greenhouse gases. A part from just emitting of these gases, these countries just as the rest of other countries in the world will experience some of the greatest impacts of climate change. Already countries such as Asia face about ninety percent of the environment degradation related risks in the world and more than a half a million people died every year.
Development aid investment in the developing countries has been seen vulnerable to environmental degradation. It is predicted that two degrees rise in temperature is expected in the futures and this will reduce incomes from farming by twenty five percent. The study recommends urgent need be carried out to check the rate of energy pollution from both domestic and industries and proper investment that adapt to land use, infrastructure and other structures to environmental degradation.
The world economy environmental impact in the developing countries is exacerbated with its impact felt beyond the core centers of development. For instance, China is now one of the leading cement consumption countries with an increased importation of timber. This has resulted to an increased in revenues collection in the exporting countries but at the same time increasing the rate of natural depletion. Such depletion makes those areas vulnerable to environmental disasters such as high rate of pollution, landslide and climate change.
Environmental degradation and Human freedom of choice and action
Environmental degradation has several impacts on the way people reason and act. The most affected group are the residents from the less developed countries. Its is believed that the developed countries are the key contributors of the environmental degradation. Owing to their rich environment and level of technology, they are able to minimize the magnitude of adverse effects that result from environment degradation. The impacts of human activities on environment have rise in the past few decades. While most of these changes can be considered as beneficial to humankind, there much increase of the adverse effects. Analysis of these effects their consequences to people have not been possible because of many factors that also contributed to the change in the ecosystem. Some people particularly who are perplexed by these relative wealth, the problems is scarcely noticeable. Yet millions of other people especially from the less developed countries experience great detrimental disasters of the environmental degradation. The environmental degradation such as pollution is now not necessary measures that can be used to gauged the linked between the human and the environment. The dependent of a person on an environment services focus directly the profound processes that underlie the origin of the earth. The environment is an essential component that extensively provides life and support to all organisms. The effects of the environmental degradation to humankind can be either direct or indirect. The direct effects through some biological or ecological ways. For example, the impairment of the water cleansing capacity of wetlands may have detrimental impacts to those who drink that water. On the other hand building of dams may increase the breeding of mosquitoes that eventuality may led to malaria related disorders. Indirect effects on the other hand create problems on humankind in a more complex causation, which includes, social, economic, and the political routes. At these situations, people normally take response in making decision, which actually could lead to a better way of adapting to these detrimental disasters. For instance, when land under cultivation become saline, the crop production are reduced and hence this might lead to malnutrition in human, retardation of the child growth, and vulnerability to infectious disorders. When this detrimental climate change exacerbate beyond the threshold power and ability, political tension might arise leading to stagnating or reduction of the country economy. This dynamic interaction can severely jeopardize the various features of humankind.
The impacts of the environmental degradation vary from one place to another. The effects is much greatly felt by the developing countries, that is, literate, poorly resourced and disadvantaged societies are particularly the most vulnerable to these global climate change. Most of the less developed countries heavily relied on the integrity and functions of local ecosystems and may lack means to the services of the ecosystems. Insolvency due to the impacts of the environmental degradation might at a time cause a downward spiral for such group of people. In general, the availability of ecosystem tends to reduce human ability to achieved well being status.
It is worth noting that the linkages of environment conditions and the flow of services to the social being or people are quite varied and multifaceted. Most of the environmental degradation is pre-arranged but many are unintentional consequences of the human activities. The intervention of human in nature has experienced surprised consequences, where some have harmed and exacerbated the disadvantaged one. Equitable and sustainable of the society depends on the association with the environments and abilities of a person to make sound decision and act immediately where possible to avert the problems from occurring. The four important categories of ecosystem that are helpful to human are provision, regulating, cultural and supporting services. The provision functions of the environment provide goods and services that sustain different aspects of human. However, the reduction in food, fiber and other essentials products has severe impacts in the life of humankind. The regulating functions affects human life in various ways, this include the environment purification of air, fresh water availability, reduced floods or drought, stability of the local and regional climate among others. On culture, the environment provides human with totemic species, trees, scenic landscape, geological functions, rivers or lakes. These affect the human recreational, educational and spiritual aspects.
Brown, Lester. Redefining Security’, Worldwatch Paper, Vol. 14, Worldwatch Institute: Washington, 1977.
Clark, William C. and Munn, R.E. (Eds). Sustainable development of the biosphere. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986.
Deudney, Daniel. The case against linking environmental degradation and national security. Millennium, 1990.
Pearce, F. (1994). Siberia at the crossroads. Popular science, 245 (2), 36 pp
ADB. Asian environment outlook, Manila: Asian Development Bank, 2005.
Homer-Dixon, T.F. Environment, scarcity, and violence. Princeton Univ. Press: Princeton, 1999.
Satterthwaite, D. and Steele, P. (eds). Reducing Poverty and Sustainin the Environment, The Politics of Local Engagement, London: Earthscan, 2005.
Wheeler, D. Who suffer from Indoor Air Pollution? Evidence from Bangladesh, World Bank Policy Research working paper 3428, 2004.
DFID. Climate change and Poverty: Making Development Resilient to Climate change,
London: DFID, 2004.
FAO. Towards a Food-secure Asia and Pacific: Regional Strategic Framework, Bangkok: FAO Asia Pacific Regional Office, 2004.
Pearce, D. Investing in Environmental, wealth for Poverty Reduction. New York: UNDP, 2005.
Jodha, N.S. Rural Common Property Resources: Contributions and Crisis’, Economic and Political Weekly, 1990.
Mayers, J. and Vermeulen, S. Company-community Forestry Partnerships: From Raw Deal to Mutual Gains? London: IIED, 2001.
World Bank. Environment Strategy for the World Bank in the East Asia and Pacific Region, 2005a.
UNEP. An Overview of Our Changing Environment’, GEO Year Book 2004/5, Nairobi, 2004,
World Bank. Little Green Data Book 2005. Washington: The World Bank, 2005b.
Zhen Liu. China: the Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation Project’, paper for the World Bank, Shanghai Conference on Poverty Reduction, 2004.
Cite This Work
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below: