Electronic Journal of Polish Agricultural Universities (EJPAU) founded by all Polish Agriculture Universities presents original papers and review articles relevant to all aspects of agricultural sciences. It is target for persons working both in science and industry,regulatory agencies or teaching in agricultural sector. Covered by IFIS Publishing (Food Science and Technology Abstracts), ELSEVIER Science - Food Science and Technology Program, CAS USA (Chemical Abstracts), CABI Publishing UK and ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publisher - full membership). Presented in the Master List of Thomson ISI.
Volume 8
Issue 4
Available Online: http://www.ejpau.media.pl/volume8/issue4/art-20.html


Barbara Hadryjańska, Joanna Smoluk
Department of Economics, Agricultural University of Poznan, Poland



This article presents the impact of the globalisation on the environment elements. It indicates the kinds of activities which devastate the environment mostly. It shows the proper way to decrease of the environment pollution. It also presents the activities that have been already undertaken on global scale by the international community to stop the environment degradation.

Key words: globalisation, natural environment, pollution, environment protection, environmental regulations.


Currently the globalisation is not the most dominating phenomenon only. Most of all, it constitutes the greatest challenge for humanity, aiming at forming the social-economic order.

In the effect of progressing globalisation, the interdependence between various enterprises increases, borders disappear, markets, trade, capital flow, and production systems standardise. All those occurrences favour the process of building the world as a one economic integrity. This future world is going to be more correlative. It is going to be a one global society of high level of tolerance towards ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. One can come to the conclusion that the globalisation is a process which refers to all spheres of human’s life. It has an impact on the economic situation, culture of societies, technology development, environment condition and the possibilities of its protection.

Besides the positive occurrences, globalisation causes many problems, among which the most significant are the problems of natural environment protection and the possibility of solving it in global context. The environment protection, from global point of view, comes to international cooperation which would have an impact on the settlement of the air pollution reduction levels in each country. It is also related to the experience and some kind of help which could be given to the developing countries in the sphere of forming and protecting the natural environment. On the other hand, we cannot forget about the fact that the “products” of the globalisation process, such as international corporations, which through its activity expose the natural environment to some serious threats.


Last century was a period when the symptoms of the natural environment grew very strongly. Simultaneously, the social awareness concerning its protection also increased. The new arising production technologies are created in such way so that they could protect the unrenewable resources and minimise the air, soil and water pollution. However, these modern “clear” technologies are more expensive and rich countries only can afford them. That fact additionally deepens the differences in natural environment protection possibilities between particular countries. However, this problem has not the regional meaning only. It concerns most the environment elements, such as air, water and soil.


The fumes and processes of carbon oxidation are the main causes of smog. Acid rains have sometimes even ten times higher souring level than the regular rain. Among others, they contain the products of the transformation of nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon oxides. These chemical compounds cause soil and surface water souring. They have a negative impact on vegetable cover, especially rain forests. These polluting compounds irrevocably damage the historical buildings, which are mostly made of limestone and sandstone. In years 1950-70 the sulphur dioxide emission doubled in Europe. Starting from 1983 it has been increasing by 2-3% annually. In the early 90’s the nitrogen oxides emission amounted about 6 million tones in Europe. Every following year it has been increasing by the next 5% [4].

The most urgent global threats, related to the air pollution, are ozone hole and the phenomenon of the Global Warming Effect. The consequence of the ozone layer diminishing is the increase of the UV-radiation, which is deadly harmful to living organisms. The excess of the UV-radiation may cause the growth of cancer related illnesses, especially eye and skin cancer. It may also damage the nucleic acids structure, which leads the numerous genetic mutations, immunologic system weakening and the disturbance of photosynthesis process. This last occurrence may be a reason for the cereal production decrease and deepening the food deficit in the world. It means that the effect of the damaged ozone layer is the reducing possibility of feeding the growing human population. In the decade of 1981-1991 the average early-spring ozone layer level above Europe decreased by 8% (the expected decrease was twice lower). There are some territories where the loss of the ozone layer is much higher, for example in September of 1992 the ozone layer level reduction above Antarctic amounted 60%. At present the annual rate of the ozone layer diminishing is estimated at about 3%. It is anticipated that due to some active actions in the area of production and emission of the destructive gases, the increase of the destructive factors has been stowed down. Despite the mentioned above, the ozone hole is going to spread during the next 20 years, because of the long-lasting activity of the emitted destructive compounds. Full renovation of the ozonosphere will last at least 100 years [7].

The Global Warming Effect, also called the greenhouse effect, is caused by the greenhouse gases, mainly carbon oxide and dioxide, freon, methane, nitrogen oxide and suboxide as well as hydrocarbons. Carbon dioxide is responsible for about 63% of disturbances in heat exchange between the Earth and its surroundings. It is estimated that the concentration of the carbon dioxide has increased since 1750 by over 30% and the methane concentration by about 150%. In 1990, total carbon dioxide emission came to more than 22 billion tones and in comparison to the amount in 1970 it has grown by 50%.

The sources of the greenhouse gases are mostly the processes of fuel oxidation (coal and oil). Deforestation is also a significant factor in this case. Moreover, the agriculture has also an input in the greenhouse effect, because it is a significant source of methane released in the rice crop and livestock. The other reason for the greenhouse effect is the urban waste storages which release a lot of methane. The increase of the carbon dioxide content and other greenhouse gases may raise the temperature on the Earth surface by 1.5 to 2.3°, and the climatologists predict its constant growth of 4.5° until 2050. Some tremendous changes in a global structure and intensity of rainfalls will be the effects of Global Warming. This situation may lead to the melting of glaciers on the poles, which may cause the elevation of the sea level and submergence of lowlands. The other hypothesis says that the glacier melting may cause the Gulf Stream direction change and effect in a climate cooling. Worrying is the occurrence of weather anomalies, such as: hurricanes, floods, droughts, forest fires and very frosty or open winters. Moreover, the growth of the dry areas in temperate zone as well as in tropical regions-the humidity increase and monsoon intensity growth will probably be the results of the greenhouse effect, and what would cause farmers’ impoverishment. The climate changes, connected to the greenhouse effect can be treated as a direct threat for human’s life and health, because of the possibilities of appearing such zymotic diseases like cholera and malaria [9].


The natural environment pollution concerns not the air only, but also water, although in this case the global character of its contamination has a marginal meaning. Among many kinds of water pollution the most dangerous are detergents, which are commonly used in households and applied in large amounts in many branches of industry, such as paper and tinctorial industry, glass-making, textile and building industry. Detergents are very durable and do not biodegrade. Herbicides and fertilisers (mostly nitrates, phosphates, and chlorides) are equally dangerous group of chemical compounds. Their sources are mostly chemical industry as well as the agriculture and forestry. For example from the 90’s until the 70’s of the XX century the chloride content in upper Vistula increased six times and waters tested in 1995 in Polish rivers were in over 85% polluted. According to the biological criterion, they did not find place in any of the three classes of cleanness [7].

Other groups of compounds which pollute water are:


The intensive process of soil degradation, having mainly regional character, is one of the natural environment deformation symptoms. In the second half of the XX century the soil situated on about 11% of entire Earth land got degraded (it s about 1/3 of entire arable land on the Earth). This degradation may appear in several forms such as soil souring and changing their chemical features. This may be caused by acid rains, mineral fertilising concentration, and acid or acid-forming waste storage, washing the lime out of soil. One of the degradation forms are also the distortions of the relief and the soil cover, mainly as a result of air and water landslips’ erosion, minerals’ exploiting, housing, industrial and road building as well as municipal and industrial waste storages, overdrying and overwatering of some particular areas, mainly through draining (especially through the removal of peatbogs and swamps), lowering the subterranean waters’ level and vegetation removal. Soil degradation may have a biological or chemical character. The chemical pollution is caused by the industry which is the source of heavy metals (mainly lead and cadmium), hydrocarbons, locally fluorine, chlorine, sodium and potassium. The agriculture has also great significance in this matter. Farmers often misuse the mineral fertilisers and herbicides. The sources of this kind of water pollution are also chemical waste storages, in winter – salt over dosage when removing the ice cover from roads. The biological soil pollution comes from putting the manure onto the soil cover which is not consistent with the agrotechnic rules [11].

Very strong threats for the environment are connected to the losses of tropical forest. First of all, thousands of biota species die together with the forest, which means not rapid impoverishment of the environment only, but also threatens human’s health. It is obvious that the lower biodiversity is, the more difficult to fight for human’s health and biotechnological future of our civilisation is. On the other hand deforestation also means the intensification of the climate changes and the increase of the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. Currently the deforestation rate in global scale notably increased reaching the value of 1% of forest cover annually. In some region it even comes up to 2.1% annually (Western Africa). The Amazon Forest and the Siberian Taiga called “The Green Lungs of the Earth” get deforested in a rapid rate of 30,000 ha a day (every 3 seconds 1 ha of forest gets cut down) It means that in more than 10 years it may come to:

Every year about 6.3 million ha (including 3.6 million ha of arable land) get deserted as a result of the intensive melioration and gloryhole mining. Deforestation has many causes but the international wood trade, carried by the international corporations, plays the key role in that field. In years 1965-90 the cutting out the forests for sale increased by 50% [9]. The biodiversity vanishing is highly connected to the deforestation process. Last surveys show that 8% of species will have extinct by 2015, and the next 30% is threatened by the extinction by 2040. Currently it is estimated that every day about 70 known and unknown biota species irrevocably disappears from our planet. For example in 1949, there was 10.000 wheat subspecies in China and currently there have remained 1.000 of them only. On Madagascar 93% of original forest have been cut out and it is estimated that the half of the existing there by the 50’s of the last century 12.000 plant species and 190 the animal species have already disappeared [3, 7].

The next global problem is a deficit of drinking water in the world. The shortage is rather weakly enlightened by the international community. It is because the water resources are balanced in a global scale. However, there exist some significant differences between individual parts of the world. At present 2 million people die of the diseases caused by the lack of water. In many developing countries high cost of gaining the drinking water makes it difficult to realise the economic goals. Over 20% of world population has limited access to water of appropriate quality and in satisfying amounts. More than half of the population suffers from the lack of water, which would be proper for keeping up with the health standards in their houses.

The important part of the economic activity influencing the condition of natural environment (particularly water and soil) is the agriculture. In rural areas one can still note the “wild” waste storage areas, which are not properly preserved, moreover, they have a very negative impact on rural landscape. The soil degradation may also be caused by overgrazing, intensive plant growing, inappropriate ploughing and melioration. The significant is fact of taking over of large areas, often of high quality, for building social-economic infrastructure, which permanently eliminates this soil from usage. The intensification of agricultural production is connected to high pesticides and fertilisers use. Those chemicals are almost entirely delivered to the subterranean waters and water reservoirs. From 1990 until 2002 the fertilisers use in Polish agriculture fell down by half. It is worth to remember that the way of using those chemicals is also important. Misuse of the mineral fertilisers causes their washing out to the rivers and lakes which become eutrophicated. This process may cause the increase of the water organisms’ mortality, especially fish species. The environment worsening in rural areas is also a consequence of burning out the grass and improper animal excrement management [6].


The long-lasting economic human activity and their disrespectful attitude towards nature have caused a lot of tremendous damages to the environment. Therefore the problem of slowing down the destruction process is very difficult to solve. The level of the natural environment degradation and production, technology and resources mutual connections originated from globalisation. Those occurrences increasingly condition human existence, independently from the geographical latitude. The results of the unwise human activity more and more often become the global problem. Therefore it is necessary to enlighten the fact that mankind is one of the biosphere elements, so their existence depends on correct functioning of the whole nature system. On the other hand, the nature depends on human activity. When we encounter such feedbacks between people and biosphere, there should not be any contradictions between people and their environment, if we want to give a chance to live to the next generations [8].

The environment protection, while forming it in a globalisation process, must be expressed in simultaneous [5]:

The main point of current environment protection policy is the protection of humans’ health and life. This motivation gets stronger with the progressing environment degradation which results not in individual sense only, our own health state and the social opinion on environment quality but also by the research results, which happen to be alarming. The pollution effects stimulate the acceleration of the research. The tasks of those research are very serious not in medical biological and technical sciences only but also in social-economic and law sciences. Human indolence in the area of nature protection comes from their ignorance, although sometimes it results from individual economic goals. The economic addictions are the origins of the lack of initiative, proper organisation activities and weak protection effects. The environment protection is rather expensive and is going to be much more expensive in future. Researchers are sure that the protection should be conducted, even if it was on the most expensive level. Moreover, it should be fully approved by the society. It is high time to finish the scheme, according to which the release of the radical law means of nature protection follows the situation when the danger surpasses all acceptable standards. Today the economic motivation of the environment protection counts mostly. Besides the working out of the natural resources, the environment pollution is considered as a factor limiting the development. Moreover, it is not controversial to the first mentioned factor – working out the resources. The expansiveness of the economic development towards nature – the only source of resources – built the necessity of immaterial human affairs protection. That process also strengthens the legitimacy of economic protection reason, because of the measurable losses made by the environment pollution.

The right to live in uncontaminated environment is in deed unquestionable and superior value but the barriers created towards the economic growth by the environmental law system are the effect of the compromise between the increase matters and the non-economic interests. The knowledge letting a man exploit and devastate the environment develops much quicker than the knowledge letting recognise and heal the results of that activity. The technological development is concerned as a very strong and universal factor influencing the globalisation process. Together with that occurrence the concern about the working out of the resources arises. It is necessary to search the renewable energy resources. The data illustrate this problem: it is estimated that the coal resources are going to be sufficient for the next 200-250 years, the oil resources for 70, and the earth gas for 100 years. These data are estimative, because the chronological development is not possible to predict. Nobody can forecast how much energy will be used in 100 years [7].

The negative impact of the globalisation on the environment is very clear. The fact that the globalisation touches almost every aspect of human’s life is indisputable. Facing the fact of the globalisation process broadening, it is worth to use its mechanisms to protect the environment more efficiently in a global scale. The aim of the ecological state policy should be the sustainable development, which on one hand would assure the ecological safety and on the other would raise the human and environment coexistence culture. Through the notion “ecological safety” one should understand the possible access to fresh air, clean water and the assurance of each existing species protection. The most urgent global problem connected to the natural environment protection is global warming. The reduction of the greenhouse gases emission with the necessity of economic progress can be reached with the use of new technologies, more efficient energy sources and the increase of the role of natural absorbers, for example forests [13].

Any goal we attribute to the environment protection, its realisation demands a lot of expenditure, which should be paid by the state. The progressing pollution emission and the appearance of its new sources will probably cause some kind of synergy leading to multiplication of losses. Those losses originating from the abandonment or incomplete protection are always higher than the expenditures on the protection which would be conducted simultaneous with the production process. Those expenses for reaching the same restructuring level will surely be multiplied in future. It means the intensification of the business conflict between the economic growth and the nature protection. The necessity of the economic activity rationalisation moves to the foreground. Those activities can be: change of consumption habits, use of the economical technologies, proper resources management and operating with system of full prises containing environment exploitation cost. The ecologists’ opinions show how important the environment protection on a global scale is. They claim that it is the fist time in history, when the nature is threatened by the ecological catastrophe. One can suppose that such an occurrence would be an effect of combination of smaller local catastrophes of a broader character. Global catastrophe would cause the human population decrease and the breakdown of modern civilisation. To protect the natural environment we have to be aware how strong the threatening factors are. Among them one can notice the global competition, ruthlessness in creating the apparent needs, making the consumption good the main social distinguishing feature [1].

The activities aiming at the natural environment condition improvement must be connected with:


The first state activities towards the environment protection had the local character. First international environmental initiatives were related to the forming of the national environmental law. It took place in the 70’s of the last century, when the politicians started to interest in that matter. Poland has concluded a variety of bilateral agreements concerning the border waters protection, air protection, the technological cooperation, nuclear safety and environment protection. Poland has concluded those agreements with the neighbouring countries and also with Holland, Denmark, Hungary, Austria, the United States of America, Sweden and Finland. There are a lot of regional conventions dedicated to the marine environment protection, among which is “Helsinki Convention on Environment Protection of Baltic Sea” (Helsinki, 1974). common agreements are the regulations of special international meaning. They are very significant in regard to their global character and specificity of some regions, on which the conducted activity has to be regulated on an international scale. These are for example fighting the epidemic or rare animals’ trade control. Poland is a side in 48 common agreements, among which the first was Convention on the Protection of Birds Useful to Agriculture (Paris, 1902). “The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World and Natural Heritage” has special meaning in the international environmental law development (Paris, 1972) [5].

The international regimes which are specific kind of international institutions play the key role in the area of the ecological cooperation. Their development is one of the basic forms of international community reactions on ecological threats connected to the greenhouse effect and the diminishing of ozone layer. In the first case there is a frame convention of United Nations on climate changes and the enclosed protocol from Kyoto. The cooperation in the area of zone layer protection is based on “Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer” (1985) and the several protocols specifying its resolutions. The convention came into force on the 22nd of September 1988. According to the data from the 9th of February 2001, 176 countries, plus the European Union, accepted the convention. The fundamental aims of the convention are: reduction of the consumption and production of the substances destructive to the ozone layer, research development, building of the special data base, efficient exchange of the information on the ozone state and technology transfer serving its protection. Although the convention did not create the ozone layer monitoring system, the research is conducted by the Global Ozone Layer Observing System created by World Meteorological Organisation (Pietraś, Olchowski 2002). An important happening was the creating of the Convention on Climate Change presented on The Earth Summit in June of 1992. It came into force in 1994. By the 2000 the convention was acceded by 166 countries. The climate convention, a document having a frame character, does not put any significant rules on the acceding countries. Its basic goal is the stabilisation of the greenhouse gases emission on such level, which would prevent from their dangerous interference in global climate system. Just on the third conference of the convention participants on the 11th of December 1997 in Kyoto the protocol specifying the greenhouse gases reduction amount in the industrialised countries. According to the protocol, those countries agreed to reduce the emission of those substances meanly by 5.2% in years 2008-2012, accepting the emission in 1990 as the calculation basis, however, the reduction amounts for particular countries are significantly differential, which is shown in the table 1.

Table 1. The greenhouse gases’ emission reduction amount in particular countries








Czech Republic

World average

Emission reduction amount (in %)









Source: Own elaboration based on Pietraś, Olchowski (2002)

In the context of those amounts the special rule was passed. It says that the global reduction effect is more significant than the results of the activities conducted by particular countries.

At the turn of the 60’s and the 70’s of the last century the problem of the environment protection was undertaken by The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Under the UNO auspices the trial of the international environmental law codification was undertaken. That task was taken by the World Commission on Environment and Development. It published the famous report entitled “Our Common Future”, which contained the idea of the sustainable development. This kind of progress arranges that the resources exploitation, investment directions, technology and institutional changes remain in harmony with the nature and enable the satisfaction of human needs and aspirations. The conception of sustainable development was formulated as a counterweight to the conception of the economic growth, which negative and long-lasting effects were revealed in Roman Club report. The key goals of this conception are welfare, which means the needs satisfaction, safety and justice in both intergenerational and international dimension.

The second grade goals are development and assuring the durability of the ecological functions of the environment. The development must be achieved without the natural resources violation. This process demands such a way of management so that the environment ability to pollution assimilation would not be surpassed. The significant problem is the definition of the rules of the unrenewable resources management. Every time we use those resources they diminish. Therefore it is postulated that they should be used in such way, so that the next generations could also be provided with them.

The important conventions undertaken by the UNO in the area of environment protection are:

The significant activity undertaken by the Commission was the fourth conference “Environmental for Europe” in June of 1998 in Aarhus (Denmark). The next important organisation is the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources founded in 1948. The aim of the organisation is to support the aspiration of saving the integrity and diversity of nature and sustainable usage of its resources. Under IUCN auspices over 300 environmental schemes is realised in 133 countries [5].

The global proecological activities are also undertaken by the nongovernmental social organisations such as: Greenpeace Int., World-wide Fund for Nature and the Sierra Club. The fundamental aim of the Greenpeace is to conduct or coordinate the international activities directed to stop the natural environment degradation. The main area of their activities are counteracting against toxic and radioactive waste storages or the air, rivers’ and seas’ pollution. The significant successes of the Greenpeace depend on relatively high financial resources enabling the conducting of the activities on global scale. Very often those actions attract the interest of media [10].

When we speak about the international cooperation for the environment protection we cannot pass over the activities undertaken by the European Union. First action in the area of climate protection was connected with the European Commission acceptance (Dublin, 1990) of the necessity of the working out the strategy of greenhouse gases’ reduction. The aim of that activity was to reduce the greenhouse gases emission by 8% by the years of 2008-2012 as the Kyoto protocol said. However the long-term reduction was to reach 20-40% by 2020 and eventually 70% in comparison to the emission from 1990. To achieve those assumptions it is necessary to support the structural changes, especially in a transports and energy sector. Stronger activities are to happen for increase of the energy usage efficiency and energy-savings. The support of the renewable energy sources (especially wind and solar energy) and the citizens’ awareness increment have been planned [2].


Globalisation is an inevitable occurrence and there is no alternative way for the world. Globalisation can be a great chance, if it is realised by the international democratic institution obeying the strict rules. It is supposed that the condition of the sustainable development, equal cost distribution and obtaining the profit from global market is the adequately directed globalisation process.

Globalisation surely is a process on which we may look from may different points. It has developed in many areas in very different ways. Science and financial markets have achieved the highest level of integration and globalisation. In the technology area, commodity and service market, the most globalised are those which conduct most intensive activities in the capital field. The labour market, education, infrastructure and administration are basically in state competence; however they very often get under the pressure of the international competition. The media internalisation, internet communication, international tourism, culture and science development, also the extension of ecological threats and zymotic diseases can be attributed to the globalisation.

The necessity of environment protection on a global scale is an undisputable matter which is admitted both by the globalists and the globalisation opponents. It cannot be pushed to the margin. The problem is global, so the solutions must be global as well. Therefore it must concern every sphere of human‘s life and propose various ways of behaviour in accordance with the country location, culture and life standards.

The activities aiming at diminishing the environment degradation, undertaken by the current generation make us optimistic. Unfortunately there is a great distance from the solution of the problem of great social-economic differences between individual countries. Leaving these problems without any solution means at least their fixation in future.


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Barbara Hadryjańska
Department of Economics,
Agricultural University of Poznan, Poland
Wojska Polskiego 28, 60-688 Poznan, Poland
email: barbara.hadryjanska@au.poznan.pl

Joanna Smoluk
Department of Economics,
Agricultural University of Poznan, Poland
Wojska Polskiego 28, 60-688 Poznan, Poland
email: smoluk@au.poznan.pl

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