As Earth’s carrying capacity has been strained by the world’s exploding population, spiraling abuse of resources, and behemoth of waste and pollutants, states in turn have been compelled to reassess their realist understanding of the world in order to combat the dilemma of sustainable development. Particularly for economically-developing countries, it is difficult to restrict development for the sake of the environment because the costs fall back upon the economy and society of the states; however, economically-developed countries are still reluctant to financially help economically-developing countries in becoming more environmentally-friendly. Thus, economically-developing countries struggle between two options, trying to find a happy medium between environmental benefits and the welfare of the state: many IGOs have illuminated their plight to economically-developed countries, despite the significant difference between the two. The biosphere’s disintegration has forced states to consider an international (liberal) perspective on world politics and to compromise their realist tactics in order to survive and sustain their individual economies, governments, and societies.
The condition of the Earth can be analyzed by resources of petroleum, natural gas, and primary sources; lands, forests, and the ground; water; wildlife; and the air and ozone layer. Petroleum, natural gas, and minerals are the world’s primary energy resource. However, all are limited and apt to run out eventually; with economically-developing countries rapidly increasing consumption through technological advances, estimation of usage is undeterminable and the search for alternative resources is greatly needed. Land and forest, another valuable resource, has also experienced great depletion; wood, which is often an energy source for the poor, has become scarcer as forests have been cut down. Erosion of land has allowed for desertification and also pollution from economically-developed countries and multinational corporations dumping their waste in economically-developing countries.
A phenomenon of global warming has also occurred, affecting particularly the water and air and also wildlife. Fresh water and oceans have been devastated by pollution, whether it was runoff from land and dumping or oil spills. Wildlife living in the water and on the land have also been affected as well; the endangered species list has more than doubled in the past century, and extinction has become an international crisis. In addition to loss of diversity of animals, endangerment also takes a toll on food supplies for many, particular those states that rely on fish as a main source of intake (ex: Japan, Vietnam; etc). The air and ozone layer perhaps has led to the most international controversy; ever since the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer in 1989, there has been collective international attention and treaties made on how to prevent UV rays from harming the world’s citizens. Pollution also extends to the air as smog and harmful emissions have alarmed the world, particularly in economically-developing countries. Overall, global warming has become an undeniable occurrence, though its extent and danger is arguable (pessimists understand the world to be depleting while optimists see it as a mere shift of temperatures like the Ice Age).
Ultimately, the size and gravity of the biosphere’s disintegration has led a slow shift from a national, realist understanding to one of liberal internationalism. From the example of global warming, it became apparent that environmental issues were not just a national but an international occurrence; not one country has the capacity to solve all environmental issues. Thus, states need to join together in order to combat the depletion of resources and to sustain their each individual countries; of course, economically-developed and economically-developing countries have different perspectives on how to go about sustainability. Economically-developing countries struggle with the simultaneous development and maintenance of the environment and resource supply; many ask for aid and support from economically-developed countries who also struggle to improve their own environment and are reluctant to restrain themselves in order to allow economically-developing countries to have unrestrained pollution and consumption in order to advance. Compromises have been forced between economically-developed and economically-developing countries to join together, such as the Kyoto Protocol, which imposes economically-developed countries to restrict their greenhouse gas emissions and encourages economically-developing countries to do the same. The environment is everyone’s, and the mistakes of economically-developing countries also cost economically-developed countries, vice versa. In addition, there has been a growing global recognition of the “population problem”; states are realizing the rapid growth of people, particularly in developing countries, and the usage of resources and pollution they will cost in the future. With the improvement of developing countries now-of course with the aid of developed countries-the future seems much more secure for developing and developed states with support from the developed. The growing global awareness of international changes to the biosphere has catalyzed changes within states too. Economically, states have seen greater trade from greater international connections; especially between economically-developed countries and economically-developing countries, globalization has deeply affected the economy as well as side effects of greater international trade. Environmental and resource-based restraints have affected the economy internationally; whereas previously farmers could freely cut trees in Brazil, now there is severe opposition from interest groups and other states who see this as harmful to their economies.