Combatting Climate Change requires Environmental Globalism - thinking nationalistically or regionally is not enough to tackle most environmental problems

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Keskiviikko 29.1.2020 klo 18:14 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Nationalistic movements have gained ground during the recent past – Brexit, “America First” as prime examples. This is a sorry situation, because virtually all environmental problems are global. You can find a pollutant that originates from a factory in New York in a whale caught off the coast of Iceland. The foreign molecules are found in the Antarctic ice. The clothing we wear in European countries causes pesticide pollution, dye pollution, and decreased water availability throughout the cotton-producing countries.

The nationalistically thinking circles always forget this, and say that “we are doing our share of combatting environmental problems.” To be able to say this, they should not use any t-shirts which use cotton grown in India and made in a factory in Bangla Desh. In buying and using these clothes the people are outsourcing the environmental pollution. If the nationalistic circles were actually thinking of their responsibility to the environment, they would pay for the expenses needed for proper water treatment in factories producing the clothes or their dyeing units.

The global nature of environmental problems is clearest in combatting climate change. For example in Finland the nationalistic circles say that any industrial production in Finland is actually an action against climate change because of the strict environmental standards required here. This is the major point of environmental globalism. The same high environmental standards should be required everywhere on the globe, and the buyers of the products should pay for the improvements of environmental standards. Otherwise the buyers of the products are taking a free ride at the expense of the environment. Naturally it is not the environment we see every day, but the pollutants can later affect our everyday life.IMG_20170729_0029_NEW.jpg

Perhaps the clearest example of why nationalistic or regional thinking is not enough comes from the energy use. Finland and Europe are striving for fossil fuel-free energy production in the near future. To some extent this is done by importing electricity from countries, which are producing electricity using fossil fuels. This is the same kind of outsourcing of environmental problems as otherwise buying products with inferior environmental standards of production. Thus, industrial production in Finland and elsewhere in Europe are partially not reducing their carbon footprint but outsourcing it to places, which do not enact to do such reductions. This partially negates the argument that nationalists are using about our climate-friendly industry. It does not really help, if it’s said that we are only importing electricity produced with sustainable means. If the electricity was not exported, the exporting country could give its own inhabitants less fossil fuel-produced and more sustainably produced energy. Again, the solution would be environmental globalism. The electricity throughout the world would be taxed according to the percentage use of  fossil fuels regardless of the origin of electricity.

Avainsanat: environmental pollution, energy production, carbon footprint

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