Over the past 30 years, 30% of the world's natural environment has been destroyed, populations of freshwater animal and plant species have been halved and natural forests have declined by 10%. Part of the problem can be traced to unsustainable rates of consumption in rich countries that are creating climate change and ozone depletion, as well as using up resources and producing toxic waste products.
On the one hand, it is argued that globalization leads to economic growth, which in turn leads to development and makes societies more able to live sustainably and deal with waste products in an environmentally friendly way. On the other side of the debate, it is argued that economic growth leads only to greater environmental damage as sustainable development fails to take place. In addition, it is argued that health risks caused by environmental damage are seldom borne by those who cause them. Poor countries contribute relatively little to pollution that causes environmental and climate change, yet they are increasingly suffering its economic and health costs.
Environmentalists often oppose globalization because they fear that trade liberalization will proceed without taking into account key environmental issues such as effective control of pollution and resource use. Supporters of globalization cite rising global awareness and cooperation on environmental issues and suggest that, because globalization will increase people's wealth, environmental protection will become increasingly affordable.