The world is divided: by religion, by the gap between rich and poor, by nationalism and prejudice, and by humanity’s desire for land and natural resources belonging to others…
Sometimes these conflicts lead to violence, but they don’t always end in war. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the term “globalization” has increasingly been used to describe the interdependent relationships between nations, economic activities, political systems, and individuals on a worldwide scale. However, while international exchanges are developing in all directions —goods, labor, knowledge-sharing, and culture—not everyone is benefiting from globalization.
Nonetheless, the idea that the future of humanity and our environment is a collective global concern is gaining momentum. And this is supported by the number of important international conventions on the environment which have been held in recent times, including the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of 1971 (for the protection of migratory birds), the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution of 1972, and the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora of 1973.
One of the most recent and influential was the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development of 1992, which culminated in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Even though the Earth only has one atmosphere, not everyone agrees on the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Often the compromises required are at the cost of efficiency. The commitments made at Kyoto, which are rarely enforceable, are not being met: global emissions of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, have risen by 16% since 1990 and continue to increase. The first set of targets for the Kyoto Protocol will expire in 2012 and the international negotiations to replace them have already begun. It is a painstaking yet essential process.