How Environmental Problems Come to be ‘Global’: Sociological Perspectives on the Globalisation of the Environment

  • Steven Yearley


On the face of it, no issues are better suited to treatment in terms of globalisation than environmental ones since leading environmental threats appear physically or biologically global. There is only one Earth, only one, interconnecting biosphere. During the late 1980s and 1990s, the prime focus in international environmental problems settled on successive global issues, first on ozone depletion and on the atmospheric circulation of POPs (persistent organic pollutants), and then on biodiversity protection and global climate change. The label of ‘global environmental issues’ came to feature prominently in research agendas and environmental action programmes throughout the Northern world. At the same time, these countries’ inhabitants have repeatedly been offered new identities as citizens of planet Earth. Novel imagery has proposed that the world’s population is the crew of spaceship Earth. Voluntary organisations have offered us the chance to become Friends of the Earth (FoE) or supporters of the World Wide Fund for Nature. We are invited to put the EarthFirst! These verbal images have been reinforced with innumerable pictorial variations on the Earth seen from space: Planet Earth, a brilliant blue and green jewel, hangs isolated in the vastness of the Universe.


Genetically Modify World Trade Organization Ozone Depletion Genetically Modify Crop Genetically Modify Food 
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Copyright information

© Steven Yearley 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Yearley
    • 1
  1. 1.University of YorkUK

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