Could the Industrial Revolution be a reason for the environmental problems we are experiencing nowadays?

The Industrial Revolution had important consequences throughout the world.  There was an increase in production, transportation become more efficient, whilst ecological problems also occurred. The Industrial Revolution introduced the process of production using machines and tools driven by new energy sources produced from solid fuels, this in turn led to their consumption increasing. The effects of the combustion of these products gradually began to exert their effects on the biosphere. Furthermore we must understand the effects of “urban phenomenon”, these led to damage to natural systems and increasing environmental pollution, derived from forms of energy that heavily polluted the environment to which human society is subject.

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Situations such as erosion, desertification, deforestation and loss of biodiversity are intimately linked with ecological problems and are the result of several factors that have to do with how we have handled renewable natural resources and natural factors. Also one of the most important problems nowadays is overpopulation. During the past 60 years, the population in Mexico has grown five times. In 1950 there were 25.8 million people, in 2010 it was 112 300 000.

I want to emphasize this problem because this is linked with the seven environmental problems we face in 2013. Overpopulation inhibits equitable distribution of food and water and nobody wants to talk about resource depletion. Mexico has grown significantly in recent years and this has brought consequences: there is not enough space for people to live and this causes deforestation. Our woods and fields are no longer used for agriculture and this also affects biodiversity. We might have enough space to live but what about our food and water which are our main resource to live? Also there is another problem in Mexico which affects our country: water scarcity. This environmental problem affects more people than any other and is considered one of the most serious, because without water, we would simply all die.

As a conclusion, thanks to this research about the main problems in our country I notice that all of them are linked and if we confront one we can counter all the rest.

 

By Valeria Conde

Did the Industrial Revolution ultimately cause Britain’s north-south divide?

The Industrial Revolution, which first developed in the United Kingdom between approximately 1760 and 1840, brought improved manufacturing processes, material prosperity and the consolidation of the capitalist method of production to millions of people. However, it also caused major environmental damage and ill-health, and furthermore utilised child labour to attain these final results. To what extent these consequences were justified by improved material wealth is a question open to debate.

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To improve efficiency in production, the Industrial Revolution oversaw a radical change in the use of natural resources in manufacturing. The intensive use of fuels such as coal and oil, combined with large scale production in urban areas, led to widespread pollution throughout the country. Certain areas, such as London and Manchester, experienced heavy soot and smoke, whilst urban sewers spread infectious diseases amongst the densely populated cities. According to an article on the BBC website from June 2012, the effects of the Industrial Revolution are still felt throughout the country, with polluted drinking water, poisoned rivers and acid rain. Scientists have even studied the effects of the Industrial Revolution on biodiversity in the United Kingdom, such as the evolution of the Peppered moth due to the soot produced by the industrial factories.

Despite the environmental failings of the Industrial Revolution, the improvements in the efficiency of production of goods revolutionised British society. Economists such as Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations in 1776, explained the unprecedented acceleration of economic development due to specialisation and increases in efficiency in production. Most aspects of daily life were simplified by newly developed machinery and production techniques, which by consequence allowed the expansion of literature, arts, education, theatre and sport, amongst others, to take a more prominent place in British society.

In the United Kingdom, the Industrial Revolution brought prosperity and employment to many in the north of the country due to the presence of coal and iron ore. However, this also led to an overreliance on heavy industry for economic success. As Britain moved towards an economy based upon services rather than industry, the process of deindustrialisation left many in the north of the country without work. The privatisation and closing of many coal mines during the Thatcher government (1979-1990) led to protest and the polarisation of politics in the UK during the 1970s and the 1980s. Ultimately, it can be argued that whilst the Industrial Revolution brought prosperity to the north of the United Kingdom, it eventually led to a north-south divide which to this day remains of much political, economic and social significance.

 

By Robert Cottey 

An eternal fight against pollution

The industrial revolution was a social and economic change that happened between the XVIII and XIX centuries, mostly in Great Britain and later it expanded all throughout Europe. This revolution impacted manufacturing processes by the introduction of the steam engine and mass production in factories.

 

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Although this revolution had a huge impact on the creation of wealth amongst western societies, there was a cost which had to be paid in order to use the steam machine. The most common fuel for this process was coal. When coal burned it would release a lot of energy that boiled water and then with the steam it moved a series of mechanisms that would power up the machine, since coal is fossilized carbon, and after combustion it would release huge amounts of CO2 ( carbon dioxide ) into the air.

The environmental repercussions of coal burning didn’t take long to be noticed, the combination of the smoke from the factories and the fog created heavy thick black clouds called smog that started causing respiratory problems and even led to deaths, whilst contaminated water from machines and factories was dumped into rivers, contaminating the water and provoking diseases such as cholera.

Nowadays we live under heavy health protocols that are enforced onto the factories by the government in order to preserve the environment stability and the health of the citizens, but not only factories are being accounted nowadays for the pollution that is created in big cities, the use of the automobile also plays a major role in the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere.

 Mexico City, one of the biggest urban areas in the world and formally a very heavily polluted city, has been taking steps in order to improve the emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere with social programs such as Vehicular verification, Eco-Transport, like Metrobus, and the implementation of the Ecobici, a system of bicycle rentals for transportation around the centre of the city. These programs and more have led to Mexico City being awarded recognition from the C40 group for air quality.

Once a city whose pollution was apparently without solution has now, thanks to the implementation of well designed long term policies, emerged as an aspiring environmental modern city that keeps on working to improve itself day by day.

 By Iván Aragón 

Water pollution, a problem that involves everyone.

Let’s start with some facts. In 1975 there were 32 polluted aquifers, 10 years later were 80 and by 2010 the number increased to 105.

This is a big problem in Mexico, because these polluted aquifers caused the deaths of 1277 children in 2010, due to polluted water provoking deadly intestinal infections.

Most of these aquifers are rivers that are polluted with industrial and dangerous waste.

All of this polluted water travels to the seas, and obviously it becomes polluted with all of these awful wastes. In 2009, around 338 beaches were monitored and 99% of them had unacceptable pollution levels.

In my opinion this is a big bad problem, because as time passes these aquifers are getting more and more polluted and the problem increases.         When are we going to attack this problem? Until our beaches are very polluted and we are unable swim or even enter the water?

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But the solution is not entirely in the hands of the authorities. They can make changes, however the real change must be amongst the minds of the people and our culture of waste disposal. I don’t know why Mexican people are so careless with their own environment, with the place in which we live. People don’t seem to care when they throw garbage on the floor and they trigger floods, but they care when the floods cause damage to their homes, and they claim the problem is provoked by our government.

People need to start thinking first about their actions, that they themselves are causing all of these troubles. People don’t care about their pollution of rivers, they are happy to throw garbage without thinking about all of the problems they are causing. They only think about their own satisfaction because they are lazy, they don’t want to take the garbage to a correct place.

This is a big problem, and I believe it needs to be attacked with our own actions. We must stop thinking only about ourselves and think more about the problems that we are causing with our own, inconsiderate actions.

Cuautitlán Izcalli, suffering from considerable pollution.

As we all know the Industrial Revolution had an impact all over the world and helped change how the rest of history developed. To start I would like to emphasize how it affected Mexico, but firstly it is important to recognise that the Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain. Mexico was originally an agricultural economy but this changed with the Industrial Revolution. The use of machinery was new; Mexicans didn’t know how to properly use the machinery, and this provoked a lot of uncertainty. As a result, the things that didn’t function anymore where thrown away or abandoned. I will know focus more on a specific part of Mexico called The State of Mexico. As I mentioned the problem with the Industrial Revolution was that people did not know to deal with industrial waste. A clear example exists in the State of Mexico with the Lake of Guadalupe and the river that passes beside the “Mexico-Queretaro” highway. These two large bodies of water contain the majority of industrial waste and regular waste in Cuautilán Izcalli. The industrial waste and the garbage of the area is visible for all to see. This has caused the Lake of Guadalupe to dry up by around 35%. Furthermore, the river next to the highway has caused the spreading of many diseases in these communities and an unhealthy environment for the population.

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In my opinion one of the best solutions to eradicate or moderate the impact of the Industrial Revolution nowadays is to promote environmental education among the population of the State of Mexico, to make campaigns, and to provide better rubbish collecting services.  In the long term the area in which they live could be at risk not only by the pollution, but also by waterborne diseases such as cholera, dengue, and botulism and other diseases which are characteristically suffered in Mexico. Another solution would be legislation, with that we could regulate the problem and perhaps in the long term we could eradicate it.

The Federal Government of Mexico, through the Secretariat of the Environment, Natural Resources and Fishing (SEMARNAP), has sole jurisdiction over those acts that effect two or more states, acts that include hazardous waste, and procedures for the protection and control of acts that can cause environmental damage or serious emergencies to the environment. The Secretariat’s main activities are to make environmental policy and enforce it; assist in urban planning; develop rules and technical standards for the environment; grant (or deny) licenses, authorizations and permits; decide on environmental impact studies; and grant opinions on and assist the states with their environmental programs. This Secretariat enforces the law, regulations, standards, rulings, programs and limitations issued by it through the National Environment Institute and the Federal Attorney Generalship of Environmental Protection (“PROFEPA”).

 

By Daniela Soriano Gómez

Deforestation of many wooded areas, how new energy sources consume our planet

As we all know the Industrial Revolution (IR) significantly changed the lives of millions of people. When it started the new machinery provoked an evolution that everyone was aware of.  A new era had begun.  It also had an impact on the way people thought. There was also an environmental impact on the planet, and I will talk about it in a more specific case, here in Mexico. As we all know one of the impacts of the IR was pollution. This happened because of all the waste that was left in the use of railways. Factories where involved not only in airborne emissions but land and water pollution as well.  This happened because of mass production, which also involved mass deforestation of many wooded areas, that before were part of a natural balance.  

 

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Mexico also had a significant population growth. This was important because the greater the population, the more waste was produced. To clarify the point given, all the demand present in that moment brought an overproduction that generated tons and tons of chemical waste among other things. There was also a draining in many natural resources such as coal mining, gold mining, and different kinds of mining, caused again by overproduction and not making certain long term plans for sustainability,. Throughout the years the draining in basic natural resources such as water and air has diminished their respective qualities, whilst some fume extractors contained certain toxic particles and again they didn’t have a long term plan for sustainability.

Many years later sustainable development became a key policy in the case of Mexico. The deforestation was prohibited by law except in certain times of the year. Specifically, when the time came for chopping down the wooded areas, it was obligatory by law to plant an equal quantity of trees in that area and then let it grow again for a couple of years. This was the case in Ajusco, a part of Mexico City, and many others. Another important part in the sustainable development was the research carried out amongst the best universities in Mexico in order to understand what exactly Mexico needed, to keep obtaining natural resources without exhausting them and to promote renewable sources.

Another breakthrough in the modern Industrial Revolution was the extraction of oil. This event came along with eco-friendly machinery, thinking and processes, such as free PVC machinery and non gasoline motors for them (Solar cells), cardboard packaging, and new fuel sources such as ethanol and wind energy.

 

By Daniel Del Salto

Water pollution, refineries and oil spills in the Caribbean Sea

During the Industrial Revolution, Europe suffered great changes .The economic system based on agricultural and craft activities transformed into one based upon manufacturing machines in factories. This revolution altered the social life in Europe and the World. The change was evident in the first part of XIX Century. In Europe, lifestyles changed greatly. At the beginning, people saw the revolution as progress. Its position was verified with a movement called “impressionism” where fascinating artists began to paint different portraits or pictures, some of them put a machine as a representation of progress in the painting’s background. After which, their routine changed and their stress levels rose. 

As the Industrial Revolution continued, the exploitation of natural resources intensified, as it sought to take advantage, to the extent that resource utilisation is at today. The exploitation of these natural resources has been abusive, and it has endangered their existence. These reasons created the need to implement a program to stop this abuse, a program based on sustainable development.

Based on these needs, the United Nations (UN) created a concept of sustainable development. The UN described it as: “A development to satisfy current needs, securing natural resources without danger and keeping them for future generations to attend to their own needs”

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The problem is that this exploitation of natural resources caused the current situation: exploitation of natural resources has caused the present pollution situation that extends to water and air contamination. Air pollution has been produced by a variety of methods (factories, machines, steamboats, to mention some of them).

The majority of water bodies (lakes, rivers, oceans, seas) are being damaged by pollution. The main contributors to pollution are tourism, nuclear containers and big cities that have diverted rivers, exploited underground reservoirs, and industrial waste.

I believe that the oceans, specifically the Caribbean Sea, have been most affected by pollution. This is because they are the most used routes to transport products from other continents, like Europe. These oceans are very important for Latin American nations. From them, the population is able to obtain fish, one of the most important food resources in several Latin American countries, and in my opinion, oil spills have made the water heavily polluted, which stops the ability to fish. Taking away the fisherman’s economy, or sometimes affecting healthy populations is something that is not in our hands. These consequences come from the practices of oil refineries, and container ships that transport the world’s goods in today’s economy.