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Reviewed by:
  • World in Motion: The Globalization and the Environment Reader
  • Jeff Crane
World in Motion: The Globalization and the Environment Reader. Edited by Gary M. Kroll and Richard H. Robbins. Lanham, Md.: AltaMira Press, 2009. 292 pp. $39.95 (paper).

In the midst of a global recession triggered by haphazard, reckless investment schemes enabled by government deregulation, a great deal of debate has arisen about corporate power and its ability to undermine and devastate national economies across the globe. Gary M. Kroll and Richard H. Robbins’s World in Motion: The Globalization and the Environment Reader reminds us that the impacts of global trade and investment have already inflicted a great deal of damage around the world with little attention and outcry. This anthology effectively intertwines the globalization of industrial capitalism and the economic and environmental disasters as well as social dislocations while consistently foregrounding the direct roles of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in facilitating these problems as they have sought to enhance corporate profits of U.S. and European companies while privatizing common and public resources. The articles are thematic, dealing with global warming, the decline of ocean fisheries, electronic waste, the privatization of public water, and numerous other issues relatively unknown to most Americans.

The articles range from straightforward journalistic prose to more complicated academic writing. They are all generally accessible to an academic and mainstream audience and provide a powerful appeal to those concerned with globalization and environmental problems. For example, Julia Whittey’s “The Seas around Us” is a concise and clearly written account that details the pace of global climate change and its corresponding impact on the oceans as well as the emerging fight over mineral and oil rights to seafloors exposed by melting, ironically by governments that deny global warming. This article examines fishing practices like long-lining, sea-floor trawling, and drift netting, considering their apocalyptic impact on ocean fisheries and other sea life. Moreover, it lays out clearly the overwhelming and dramatically worsening oceanic environmental problems that result from globalization and overexploitation.

Viewing globalization through the prism of fresh water, another article that deals with environmental and human crises while addressing the mechanisms of globalization effectively is Jon Luoma’s “Water Thieves.” In no uncertain terms, the author explains the role of the World Bank and the IMF in dismantling public waterworks in nations struggling with economic problems and seeking help from those agencies. Such assistance and loans normally requires that these [End Page 426] governments, such as in Ghana, Bolivia, and the Philippines privatize previously publicly provided and commonly shared drinking water for the benefit of multinational corporations, in order, so the argument goes, to provide money for the repayment of loans. These privatization schemes, according to Luoma and others, have resulted in nightmarish conditions for people around the world. From increased poverty, illness, and mortality rates, the author effectively demonstrates that in any calculation other than the profit margins of multinational companies like Bechtel, this process is in no way rational or economically sensible; it is also inhumane.

The anthology’s authors point out in their introduction that faith in technology is a mainstay of American society and among their students. Vandana Shiva’s “Pepsico for Peace? The Ecological and Political Risks of the Biotechnological Revolution,” published originally in 1991 in The Violence of the Green Revolution: Third World Agriculture, Ecology, and Politics, offers a direct attack on that confidence and the still strident American belief in the overall good of the “green revolution.” Shiva draws from the green revolution and its multiple negative impacts to predict even worse consequences from the second green revolution, or alternatively, the “Biotechnology Revolution.” According to Shiva, this new flow of corporate capital, herbicides, genetically modified seeds, and more monocultural export-oriented crops would extend and worsen the poisoning of the Indian people, undermine local economies and staple food production, introduce more invasive species and plants, and, of course, increase the profits of multinational corporations while increasing poverty among the Indian rural poor. She clearly indicts the multinational chemical and seed companies like Monsanto, discussing their genetic modification of plants to make them resistant to herbicides and pesticides so...


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pp. 426-429
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