Globalization has distanced us from each other almost as much as it has connected us. It has meant the substitution of processed food for fresh, and digital experience for lived experience. Families have seen increased freedom, but also increased divorce. Trade now accounts for almost half of the world’s GDP. As a result, it is easier than ever to get flowers in winter but what about the environmental impact of getting those flowers to you? Today we think about the downsides of globalization.
Driving Question: What problems and challenges come along with globalization?
- There are at least two real downsides to globalization and how people experience it. First, there is evidence that globalization helps drive inequality instead of reducing it. Income levels within each society are becoming less equal—there are fewer middle-class people in general, and more very rich and very poor people. Second, globalization requires that we take large amounts of resources out of the earth or from plants and animals and move them long distances. This both reduces the amount of resources available and creates a lot of pollution. And those processes have begun to really change the earth—and possibly begun a process of making it unlivable. If we have lots of stuff, but don’t have clean air and clean water, are we really better off than our ancestors?
Word of the Day: Anthropocene
- Definition: the most recent or current geological age, defined as a period in which humans have been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.
- Humans have changed the world and are doing so at an accelerating pace. Are we doing damage that we cannot undo? How is globalization related to this question?
- Watch Globalization II - Good or Bad?: Crash Course World History in Lesson 7.6 on Khan Academy.
- In this video, John Green discusses the problems with globalization. Remember, he’s only looking at the downside. If you missed it, be sure to watch Globalization I - The Upside: Crash Course World History in Lesson 7.5 on Khan Academy so you have both sides of the story.
Historian’s Journal Prompt
- Is globalization worth the risks?
- In the video, John Green talked about a lot of the bad stuff that globalization has caused or could lead to. Are the benefits and conveniences of globalization worth the sacrifices being made?