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

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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 

INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: WHAT ABOUT FUTURE GENERATIONS?

The Industrial Revolution was a period of fundamental changes in agriculture, textile manufacture, transportation, economic policies and social structure. These occurred mainly in England. The use of machinery and factories led to mass production, which gave solutions to certain problems that the society had to face because of the population growth, but also in turn it led to the development of numerous environmental difficulties.

 

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The way in which people used to perceive environmental problems in the 18th and 19th centuries was completely different to the way in which it is seen nowadays. Back then, there was no need to care about the environment, which in my consideration, might have been a huge mistake because of the consequences that we face now thanks to the unconcern of those facts. One of the most significant impacts that the industrial revolution caused was environmental, a lot of trees had to be cut down in order to construct factories and for machinery. Consequentially, trees could not emit oxygen, whilst the quality of air was heavily affected by the pollution that factories produced, which is why global warming and the problem of CO2 emissions occurred. Water pollution is also concerned with the rise of machinery during the industrial revolution. Chemicals were developed and therefore more pollution was emitted to the air, water and soil thanks to the waste that factories produced. Population growth hasn’t stopped since then. Nowadays we have reached greater levels of productivity, but the problem is that there are no resources to produce what needs to be produced. Conditions are not optimal to generate what the population needs, whilst health problems are more severe because of the pollution from climate change, yet, these aren’t the only consequences that the industrial revolution brought. Sustainable development also includes social responsibility. Regarding this aspect, we have repercussions from televisions or cell phones which have made people’s lives more sedentary, provoking health problems like addictions, or vision difficulties. Even obesity is related to the development of new technologies because of the massive production of food, people have begun to consume more, causing an imbalance in society’s lifestyle. It is important to be concerned about our actions as we are part of a society in constant change, and every change brings with it a consequence, so what needs to be done is to think about implementing preventive measures in order to let future generations take advantage as much as possible of the resources that can still be utilized.

 

By Patricia Cruz Flores

Destroying our most precious treasure.

During the Industrial Revolution, there was a huge exploitation of natural and human resources. With all the technological advances the pollution started to affect the environment and the people’s quality of life. One of the resources that was most affected was water. Since the Industrial Revolution spread all around the world, this non sustainable mentality has been growing in our society. Unfortunately Mexico is a country in process of development and although some European countries have taken measures for reducing their impact in the environment, Mexico has a long way to go.

 Image Regarding water pollution, there are plenty of places that are severally damaged in Mexico. I have my own experience visiting someplaces that made me reflect about this topic. Three years ago my family and I went to Chiapas on summer vacations. Wewere very excited because this state is well known because of its natural wonders and diversity. We visited the “Chiflon” waterfalls and the canyon of “El Sumidero”. Words can not describe how beautiful and majestic these places are. Unfortunately instead of being cared for as the wonders they are, the first thing we noticed was that people were able to cook and make fireplaces next to the waterfall. The canyon that the government built for protecting natural wildlife and flora, known as the Natural Reserve, was abandoned and all you could see in the shore was trash.  On our way home we stopped in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz and we couldn’t get to the sea because all along the coast the water was polluted with residual pollutants.

According to the statistics nowadays we generate 6.7 billion cubic meters of residual water annually. It is expected that this quantity will increase to 9.2 billion by 2030. For having a proper infrastructure to treat residual water; the government must invest 114 million pesos before 2030. Of course this is not an easy target. If we want to achieve this goal and improve our water conditions we have to reinforce the legal system and enforce the law strictly on those who pollute our environment.

Mexican society has not fully visualized the huge problem that comes from polluting water. The lack of respect to the environment and other ways of life only will take us to our own destruction. We must stop behaving like we are the only ones on this planet and that natural resources will be always available. Saving water today and treating our residual waters could save us tomorrow. As Lord Baden Powell says in his scout decalogue “leave this world better than how you found it”.

 

By Montserrat Arellano

Mexico City’s desperate environmental measures discriminate against the population

It’s always interesting to think about the perception people used to have about the environment.

Before, people would usually think that they could use whatever they wanted whenever they needed something, regarding nature’s resources, because there was plenty of it for our use. But in the last few decades we have seen that whatever it was that seemed a lot now is in short supply. We can see nowadays that several measures have been undertaken in order to solve two major contemporary problems that are: air pollution and water supply.

Regarding air pollution, the Mexican government has decided to apply a “No Circula” rule. This means that if your car is not in a fit state, or if it has a certain “age”, so to speak, you are not allowed to drive it on certain days during the week. This is one of the examples that the amount of clean air is constantly reducing and now a regulation has to be imposed so that the air isn’t polluted so heavily, however I think that even though it is a good measure, the amount of unpolluted air will be constantly growing.

 

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It’s important to mention that the water supply in several areas of the city has to be cut because the amount of clean water that we could use is no longer available as freely, and so the government must manage and distribute a reduced amount of clean water that is available for most of the people.

The funny thing is that in Mexico inequalities are everywhere, including water supply. Whilst areas like Iztapalapa have water shortages, other areas like Polanco do not suffer that much because they have more resources to afford clean and sufficient quantities of water.

Also people who are not able to afford to buy a new car that is able to be driven every day or can’t take it to be verified, must modify their whole way of living. Their methods of transportation are limited, which is something that does not happen with people who can afford to have a new car every 2 or 3 years.

To conclude, I believe that humans will only be truly concerned about the water and air pollution when our options are reduced to none. Why? Because wealthy people are still not concerned or worried about water when people who struggle everyday even for a cold shower will no longer have the opportunity to do so. Yes, I know that measures have been taken in order to provide equal opportunities to clean air and water, but in my opinion, we still have to employ stronger measures and sacrifices. 

 

By Jorge Mayorga

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 

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

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. 

CONSCIENCE FOR A LONG LIFE

Mexico PollutionWater and air pollution has always existed, but since the industrial revolution in England in the late seventeenth century it became a critical issue affecting the health and quality of life of many citizens, which not only affected England, but spread worldwide to America in the late nineteenth century.

During the decade of the sixties in Mexico the water and air pollution led to a poor quality of life, due to the very bad quality of air in the Valley of Mexico, and the diminishing quantity of aquifers due to pollution of rivers. The underground reserves of aquifers have been utilized and the Valley of Mexico has been sinking up to 30 centimeters per year due to the pollution coming from factories, which results in pollutants being dispersed in the seas and rivers, and also this has caused rivers to be dried out.

The air pollution in Mexico is mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal. The growth of cities, which has brought an increase of cars and intense industrial activities, has also led to water pollution due to chemical and petroleum waste in rivers and seas, agricultural and livestock waste and domestic waste. These cause sewage, which most frequently affects rivers, whilst mismanagement in wastewater treatment has caused a decrease in water availability in Mexico, placing Mexico in eighty-first place in water availability in the world.

In my opinion Mexico has been affected by unregulated industries and government mismanagement, due to the lack of a plan of action. I mean to say that pollutant emissions generated by factories were not controlled until the contamination became a problem and that the residual waste system, which is poorly planned, has contaminated most of the springs and rivers that supplied both towns as well as cities.

For example, in 1961 in the state of Hidalgo, specifically the village of Huejutla Hidalgo, the main river called el río Tecoluco disappeared. This was because the government gradually turned the river into a wastewater channel, a very sad fact because it was the main river serving the community.

Regarding the air pollution issue, the writer Alfonso Reyes wrote “traveler, you’ve come to the Air Is Clear” referring to the time when Cortes arrived to Tenochtitlan. Until about 50 years ago, air quality in Mexico was good, but the increased use of automobiles and industries has decreased the air quality so much so that there are days when it seems that there is fog in the city, although actually it is pollution. Due to this and the many environmental contingencies, the government has implemented different means of ecological transportation for the masses of the population. This has the purpose of reducing the pollutants emitted to the atmosphere. For example, the Mexico City metro carries approximately 5 million users each day, the metrobus system carries around 450,000 users daily, whilst more recently the use of bicycles in the Federal District has been added to help create a culture of awareness amongst the citizens of the city.