In Sean’s Ships: Bringing the World Together, Sean and Robot are on a mission to sell custard creams across the world and with the help of the Captain, have been learning all about ships and world trade.
In this series of Sean’s Ships we’ve been learning all about international trade – that’s the way different countries exchange stuff. A bit like the way you might trade things with friends in Minecraft.
Trading usingships happens all over the world. Over 150 nations trade this way, on ships manned by over a million seafarers of virtually every nationality.
Your jeans might be made in Bangladesh, the banana in your lunch box from the Caribbean and your games console might be made in China.
In this episode Sean and Robot learn about globalisation.
What is globalisation?
Globalisation is the result of the way the whole world interacts. It can refer to things like culture and politics, as well as trade. An example of globalisation is McDonald’s. It’s an American company with chains in over 120 countries – some which it owns and some which operate under a brand licence.
Is Globalisation Good or Bad?
Let’s look at what Newcastle was like 200 years ago.
At this time, the main jobs around here were coal miners, ship builders and railway engineers. Britain was having an Industrial Revolution and starting to import and export more and more goods. This meant we had more things in the shops from clothes to foods – and yes, not forgetting more biscuits – and we made huge amounts of money from the things we sold. So life got a lot better.
Now let’s take a look at Vietnam, another place where globalisation has transformed a country.
Vietnam is in Southeast Asia. In 1975, it finished a long war with America and was one of the poorest countries in the world. Trade was encouraged, it built factories and started exporting goods all over the world. As the economy grew, they invested in education and infrastructure like roads. Not everything is perfect, but there are many things that show that Vietnam is growing and becoming richer due to globalisation.
Today, we rely on the global economy more than ever. Where once the food on our plates would come from local farms, today it comes from all over the world. We want to buy seasonal foods like fruits, all year round.
Let’s take a look at the Amazon rainforest. Brazil is a country where globalisation is a complicated issue. On one hand, it has brought jobs and money into the country, on the other it’s causing real environmental issues.
Lots of the rainforest is being destroyed to make space to grow things like soybean and to raise cattle. That means the natural habitat for many animals and plants is destroyed. This is directly caused by globalisation. Much of the beef reared is sold to the US and China. The soy grown is used to feed animals in countries all over the world, including the UK, rather than feeding the local population. We may not realise it, but we’re eating products that are causing the Amazon to be destroyed.
It’s not just plants and animals that are losing their homes. You may have heard the Amazon described as the lungs of the Earth given the amount of trees that capture and turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. Sadly, scientists say that the Amazon now emits more CO2 than it takes in, so in the case of the Amazon, globalisation may well be doing more harm than good.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, globalisation could help the rainforest rather than hurt it if we approached it the right way. If enough countries got together and refused goods that contributed to the harm, then producers would have to find greener ways to work.