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close this bookDiversity, Globalization, and the Ways of Nature (IDRC, 1995, 234 p.)
close this folder1. Introduction
View the documentGlobalization and the ways of nature
View the documentThe new globalization processes

The new globalization processes

Globalization processes have existed since the dawn of the “modern” era. They began as a result of the growth of the first colonial empires, such as those of England, Spain, and France; the worldwide establishment of commercial networks (controlled, more or less, by political or military powers); the opening of new markets in peripheral areas; and the extraction of raw materials for various purposes, including industrialization.

The development of steamboats, trains, and the telegraph during the 19th century facilitated the globalization trend. Later, the invention and spread of new telecommunications systems - such as the telephone, the radio, and, more recently, television - permitted a quantum leap toward a more unified planet. These developments, however, seem to have represented only the beginning of a much bigger process that is only now becoming defined.

During the last few years, as a result of technological advances (computers, facsimile transmission, satellite communications) and the reorganization of the international framework of economies, societies, and states, profound changes with widespread socioeconomic effects have taken place. Macroeconomic trends are affecting local and regional environments and societies, while processes and activities at a local level are having global environmental and social impacts. New ideas permeate the global culture, changing patterns at all levels. Traditional cultures are being attacked by forces of uniformity, but they are also fighting back using the most modern technological means.

In light of these developments, new questions need to be formulated:

· How do we make sense of the myriad, apparently contradictory signals?

· What is, and will be, the effect of these changes on the environment and the ways of life of people in local communities?

· What is the destiny of nation-states?

· Are we witnessing the birth of a new global culture, or perhaps more accurately, a global intelligence?

· What is the destiny of the planet’s diversity - both natural and social?

· Will the forces of uniformity create the nightmarishly homogeneous, standardized world that has been a frequent scenario in science-fiction novels?

Obviously, there are no easy answers to these questions. The purpose of this book is to address some aspects of these issues, particularly in relation to their effect on environmental management of the planet. The basic hypothesis is that the new era will have enormous effects on the human and natural environment, and not necessarily all negative.