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An overview of the issue of environmental pollution in the modern world

Through the review of the state of the art on the subject, this article analyzes the growing importance of the environment, and natural resources in particular, in international relations; and aims to raise awareness among International Relations scholars to the potential positive impact of the development of the discipline in integration with global environmental change studies. Some say we live in a global disorder, in a chaotic international system, which even the most pessimistic ones were not able to predict after the end of the Cold War, since an overview of the issue of environmental pollution in the modern world current order is not unipolar, bipolar nor multipolar.

There is still no world government-although an embryonic global governance system is emerging-and the fact that the US cannot rule the world the way it did in the 1990s, given the emergence of new powers in the international arena, seems to make it very difficult to identify present power relations.

Furthermore, and paradoxically, globalization is fostering the resurgence of nationalism, because emerging economic powers seek to become political powers through national re affirmation and Western powers, namely in Europe, are beginning to tackle the rise of nationalist, racist and xenophobic forces due to the inability to cope successfully with the financial crisis. However, the international community faces many global problems, such as the ones related to the environment, and unless it cooperates to solve them the chaos might become much greater than what we have recently seen.

I would dare to say that, taking into account the great disorder which can plague the international system in the absence of true cooperation strategies in the next years and decades, the current reality cannot be deemed chaotic, as what comes next has the potential to be orders of magnitude worse.

Environmental issues, and the ones related to the exploitation of natural resources in particular, are perhaps the most global, both in their essence and scale of action, and consequently the future of humankind largely depends on the ability to create an effective web of multilateral governance. Thus, one can argue the world will move towards a new global order or disorder based on environmental challenges and on our ability or inability to deal with them.

So, this article 1 underlines the complex characteristics of the current international system, focusing on the ambiguous effects of globalization; 2 exposes, through the review of the state of the art on the subject, the multidimensionality of environmental issues, with a special emphasis on natural resources which are a very relevant element of the environment and, although they geographically belong to states, they belong, above all, in their nature, to all humankind, their management hence being a global responsibilitytheir growing importance for the development of the international system and the various security risks associated with them; and 3 highlights the role of the discipline of International Relations in studying the current dynamics of the international system and designing paths for cooperation and thus promoting a sustainable world.

The hybrid international system of the twenty-first century: Today there is a growing interdependence among states, which cannot be regarded as independent, autonomous and impermeable entities, such as "billiard balls" moving in a table, bumping against each other-a Westphalian characteristic-but rather as interdependent and interconnected actors in the international system, forced to work together on the basis of collective efforts and energies, something illustrated by the cobweb model of world politics.

The great vulnerability of national economies to events that take place anywhere in the world, the massive use of digital technologies that allow individuals to communicate using uncontrollable means by governments, and the fact that the most prominent issues in the world, as the environmental ones, are inherently transnational, tell us that the Westphalian logic of an overview of the issue of environmental pollution in the modern world international system is increasingly questionable.

However, it would be a mistake to assume that this is a world without borders, because, in certain cases, which are enhanced by globalization itself, they are even more important at present, as shown, for example, in the strengthening of the state's role as an economic national agent and in the emergence of authoritarian powers in the international arena, such as China and Russia.

Sovereignty and domestic authority are changing, creating the concept of the disaggregated state Heywood 2014: Thus, sovereignty can be seen as the exercise of shared public power and authority among national, regional and global players, something that does not imply, in any way, a decline of the state. In fact, one can argue that there is a strengthening of the state's position in the international system. Sovereignty and authority are now increasingly exercised in a supraterritorial stage, even though territoriality is still politically significant Biersteker 2012.

In a world full of economic and technological changes, and new forms of political and social mobilization, one also witnesses a very broad diffusion of power, associated with the rise of the BRICS and the MINTs Stephen 2014 ; Durotoye 2014.

Diffuse and uncertain power periods are difficult and dangerous, as the emergent powers may seek to challenge the status quo, while the established powers may try to stop the emerging countries through, for example, hard power strategies, which include the threats presented by traditional and new forms of military force for instance, cyber warfare.

Thus, some speak in the return to the Westphalian order of the international system, given the reevaluation of national security and the renewed concern about the outbreak of war. Nevertheless, one cannot neglect the complex nature of the current international order, which seems to face Westphalian challenges, such as the transition of power and the rise of new powers, and post-Westphalian challenges, such as changes in the balance between national and international levels, the material conditions of globalization and the growing importance of soft power and the legitimacy notion associated with it in terms of foreign policy.

States now face global challenges, the resolution of which will require the development of processes that rely on a wide range of actors and various forms of governance, international law and political globalization.

Furthermore, the emergence of new powers is an opportunity to boost cooperation, since there may be a better balance of power in the international system, so that dialogue and consultation seem to be the best and most realistic relationship strategies among the various powers Pereira 2013.

Otherwise, conflict may be the main characteristic of the system. Globalization is, therefore, a "double-edged sword," which creates a hybrid international system. Although there is the emergence of a global governance stage and a growing interdependence between states, as well as a strong link between the achievement of national interests and the active participation in supranational arenas, it is clear that, regarding global issues-i.

The failure of the international society in addressing environmental problems such as climate change reflects the need for a reform in the international institutions of the UN system or even the creation of new ones, eminently global-oriented, able to manage and handle situations involving long-term issues.

The emergence of new powers and global issues points to this path, in order to avoid tensions in the system. We are therefore facing a transition period in which the international system is marked by Westphalian and post-Westphalian characteristics and the world is faced with the possibility of the outbreak of tensions, conflicts and wars, but there is an unprecedented need for cooperation.

Environmental issues play a significant role in this matter, as they have features that enhance the onset of conflict, but at the same time call for global cooperation and coordination. The environment appears in the twenty-first century as a key issue in international relations, as it has enormous potential to turn the tide of globalization and the structure and the dynamics of the international system. Additionally, the way the international community manages the environment will profoundly affect the future of humankind.

The environment as a multidimensional issue and a global security risk Globalization, population growth, economic and social development, natural resource exploitation and scarcity, climate change and urbanization are external drivers in the world today.

In the Anthropocene, an era marked by the central role played by humankind in geology and ecology, global sustainability appears as a civilizational imperative. Environmental threats to security Environmental issues cut across a range of topics, namely security and economics, two areas of major importance to the state, and that is why, especially since 2007, they have come to play an important role in the international political agenda.

The 2007 UN Security Council Meeting to discuss, for the first time, the climate change issue and the fact that this is a recurrent theme in the G20 Summits of the last years Viola et al. Water wars, drug wars, diamond wars, oil wars-given the proliferation of resource wars in an era of scarcity-climate change, deforestation or pollution are now widely used expressions in international relations. The environment, in general, and natural resources, in particular, are deeply linked with security, which is one of the most controversial concepts of international politics.

Although difficult to define, it seems fair to say that it involves in an objective sense the absence of threats to acquired values, in a subjective sense the absence of fear that such values will be attacked Wolfers 1962 cited by Collins 2010especially those which, if left unchecked, threaten the survival of a particular referent object Williams 2008.

In general terms, and according to Soroos 1997 cited by Barnett 2010the concept of security can be defined as the assurance people have that they will continue to enjoy the things which are most important to their survival and well-being. In a changing world, environmental issues are now framed in the security concept, because traditional notions of security, focused on military security, lack relevance in a world of transnational phenomena capable of affecting a wide variety of human referent objects Greaves 2012.

Environmental security extends the concept of security by considering risks posed by environmental change to the things that people value Barnett 2010. Such risks include climate change, deforestation, soil erosion and desertification, loss of biodiversity, air, land and water pollution, ocean acidification, depletion of the ozone layer, disruption of the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, among others.

The Industrial Revolution, driven by technological development, agriculture, urbanization and the development of transport, as a response to population growth and the resulting increase in per capita demand, promoted consumption levels of goods and services that require, for example, large amounts of water, consumption levels which currently seem to be increasingly difficult to maintain.

Climate change has exacerbated the situation 1. Especially in the last 60 years, global water usage has increased twice as fast as the population, and the projected population growth for decades to come, as well as GDP growth, which coupled with the demand for energy, and food transformations in several developing countries point to a greater number of regions subject to water scarcity.

Economic development and security are therefore threatened by poor management of water resources. Climate change and water are two inseparable realities, since the former has and will have a strong impact on water supply, while this is the main mediator of the effects of climate change on the economy, society and the environment, a relationship intrinsically linked to other sectors, including energy and food production. Environmental protection, in other words, environmental security, covers food security, energy security, economic security and the access to fundamental natural resources, which leads us immediately to the concept of human security and reflects the fact that the environment is a multidimensional phenomenon.

Human security involves environmental, economic, food, health, community, political and personal aspects, a concept that suggests security should also focus on individuals and not only on state-centric threats and national defense, and on the analysis of processes susceptible to undermine security, such as poverty, malnutrition, health, human rights, justice and access to goods and services. By this point of view, one can think of environmental insecurity as something associated with social injustice and inequality, which makes one think about the enhanced inequalities of globalization and, more specifically, of the overall economic policy Schnurr and Swatuk 2012something that reveals globalization is indeed a "double-edged sword.

In this sense, environmental protection is, at heart, an instrument to ensure all these rights. In other words, the question is founded on global environmental justice, which is not merely related to the mitigation of the anthropomorphic causes of climate change, biodiversity loss or toxic pollution of the ocean crisis.

It also demands that adaptation measures do not further marginalize already vulnerable groups, because poverty kills Soett 2012. This is an example of how hybrid the international system of the twenty-first century is, since the environment is responsible for a variety of problems and challenges, however, being a global issue, it can be seen as a tool to promote cooperation and solve a number of social problems around the world, hence prompting a concerted international system.

So, the threats of resource scarcity, global financial instability, inequality within and between countries, and environmental degradation jeopardize global security, a fact which shows us that the business-as-usual will be impossible to maintain.

Changes in socio-economic, demographic and technological dynamics have increased the demand for a wide range of goods and services, which require a large amount of natural resources. It seems fair to say that a new global order is emerging, one that is deeply associated with the environment.

Huge variations in water and food availability and growing competition over short and longer time-period objectives, as well as local and regional goals associated with water management and food production and use, will characterize the new world order Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation 2014.

Climate change, poverty and human rights are intrinsically associated to these challenges related to water and food, and natural resources in general, and it is not clear how to deal with them. Environmental threats are, in most cases, diffuse, indirect and international, created within and outside states, in a long process strictly related to economic activities, being part of economic, social and industrial systems and thus conflicting with the existing societal structures.

Therefore, the major obstacle to the development of these structures is a cultural one. Protecting the environment involves a new perception of the relationship among states, markets and societies. Additionally, the long-term scale, the extent and nature of uncertainties and the unequal distribution of impacts and costs and political benefits over time and space associated with environmental protection make it difficult to analyze and solve environmental problems.

An overview of the issue of environmental pollution in the modern world are inseparable from human security, as they are issues of social and environmental injustice, which involve unequal power relations and potential paths to emancipation, something that is not only associated with developing countries, but also with developed ones, although the first ones are subject to larger scale environmental problems. The truth is that human security hazards surpass state borders Greaves 2012.

For instance, agriculture is a key sector for humanity, being part of a high standard of living. In developing countries, agriculture is particularly important, since it provides employment and stability to several regions in the world, which means that these countries are extremely vulnerable to environmental degradation and climate change. Environmental protection and poverty are probably the two greatest challenges of this century, so the failure in solving one of them will undermine efforts to solve the other.

Environmental challenges have the potential to affect the subsistence levels in most regions of Africa and various regions of Asia and Latin America, where poverty is a major problem, which may be synonymous with a growing political and economic instability, resulting in the proliferation of failed states, because many developing countries depend exclusively on natural resources.

Breaks in food production, the spread of diseases, natural resource scarcity and migration processes may weaken the political ability of governments, leading to internal and regional conflicts the competition for natural resources could inflame old ethnic and social tensionspaving the way to the spreading of radical ideologies and autocratic movements. In this context, the developed world will run a serious risk: Concerning energy issues, which are also inseparable from the environment and natural resources protection, Legget 2013 highlights the possibility of an oil crunch within a few years.

Consequently, he argues that this oil crash would lead to a financial crash: History shows that oil demand drops in the global economic downturn following a financial crisis, releasing pressure on tight oil markets.

But in a recessionary world today, or even a global depression, how long would that demand pressure dissipate for?

  • It likewise envelops the lawful and administrative system that identifies with waste management including direction on reusing and so on;
  • Climate change related journals:

The demand for oil in China, India and the major oil-producing countries is likely to be enduring Legget 2013. Mulligan 2012 follows a similar line of thought, asserting that there are three major crises facing international order: These crises are intrinsically linked, because climate change affects natural resources and exacerbates conflict potential, while putting at risk economic growth and development, a fundamental condition for addressing climate change effects and consequently protecting natural resources.

In a context of global depression, there is an enormous potential for the rise of authoritarian and semi-democratic plebiscitarian regimes across the world, which will seek economic prosperity for their nations no matter what. This would constitute an enormous global security risk. In fact, due to the financial crisis, Europe has already been witnessing an increase in the popularity of authoritarian political forces.

Natural resources in a globalized world In 2014, the world has seen an abrupt fall of oil prices, due to a slowdown in the emerging countries and Europe's demand, and mostly due to the huge increase in the US production of non-conventional oil. Saudi Arabia reacted in a strategic long-term approach for avoiding the depletion of its oil reserve assets in face of a rapid development of non-conventional oil and renewable energy.

The country's bet is to keep the oil price below the cost of production of a significant part of the producers of shale oil in the US. This reduction in oil prices is producing major effects in oil exporters dependent on a high price for keeping their national budget on balance-Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Ecuador, etc.

On the contrary, the US seems to be winning, since the country is benefiting from a large increase in its production and from being a major consumer the country is importing cheaper oil.

Some may interpret this development in prices as an aggression from the US against Russia, but howsoever there is an evident geostrategic tension in the international system, which constitutes a security risk. With regard to exporting states, the existence of valuable natural resources heightens competition for control of the state and postpones the development of other sectors of economic life, given that, in most cases, these states have very weak political institutions, something that increases the likelihood of political authoritarianism and civil strife.

It is important to underline that these conflicts begin as national security risks, but can quickly turn into international or global problems. Le Billon 2012 argues that resource allocations, operating practices, social rights and the discursive representations contribute to shape vulnerabilities and opportunities for the emergence of armed conflicts, which means that, in many cases, security problems are originated within a state, but have a large potential to surpass national borders and affect regional and international security.

The idea of future conflicts over scarce resources and anthropogenic environmental change need to be considered in terms of particular geographies of vulnerability, threat and insecurity, as well as the new dynamics associated with globalization. So, traditional geopolitics perspectives over natural resources conflicts seem to be increasingly obsolete, inasmuch as they focus on resource supply for rich countries, pointing towards military invasions and national autarky, regarding natural resources as strategic imperatives based an overview of the issue of environmental pollution in the modern world state-centric perspectives which stress conflict risks fueled by ideas of shrinking resources and difficulties in supply.

Given that one needs to study potential conflicts over resources in light of geographies of vulnerability, threat and insecurity, one also should be careful when analyzing geopolitical narratives about the threat of interstate resource wars due to the growing economies of Asia, for example, since they can promote them instead of avoiding them, simply because this is a simplistic view on the issue, which neglects the multidimensional nature of environmental issues and the need for global cooperation.

As Frerks et al.

Top Environmental Problems and their Impact on Global Business

One cannot assert the decay of geopolitics, one must admit that geopolitics is still relevant and important, but geopolitics cannot be the only perspective on environmental issues and natural resources in particular, since globalization itself has made the environment a global problem. Globalization and its global issues challenge the orthodox vision that emphasizes traditional geopolitics and the struggle for power among states, pointing to the importance of a new perspective, one which focus its attention on a geocentric perspective in the politics of global social relations or in a new geopolitics, given the increasing importance of soft power in international relations.

Howsoever, this is another aspect that proves globalization is a "double-edged sword. So, according to this view, the Arab Spring events can be viewed both from the perspective of globalization and from the perspective of geopolitics.