Industrialization and the Environment

When we think about the Industrial Revolution we think about the booming job market and the new factories that resulted from it.  There were many good things about the Industrial Revolution but there were also some negative effects from it as well.  One disastrous effect of the Industrial Revolution is the dramatic increase of Greenhouse Gas emissions.  This is a very long-term effect that was triggered by the Industrial Revolution.  Greenhouse gases are given off by a variety of sources including energy supply, industry, transportation, commercial buildings, houses, deforestation, and many others.  Just since 1900s the global Carbon Dioxide emissions have increased 16 times what it used to be.  This article gives a lot of information about greenhouse gas emissions and where they come from.

Line graph of global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels for 1900 through 2008. The line graph shows a slow increase from about 2,500 teragrams of carbon dioxide emissions in 1900 to about 5,000 teragrams of carbon dioxide emissions in 1950. After 1950, the increase in carbon dioxide emissions is more rapid, reaching approximately 32,000 teragrams of carbon dioxide in 2008.

(Source of data: Boden, T.A., G. Marland, and R.J. Andres (2010). Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A. doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2010.)

The above graph shows you how much the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions have increased since 1900.  A recent article was published about President Obama’s deal with China about CO2 emissions.  This is a good step in the progress to cut our CO2 emissions but it gives a bit too much room for the US and China to back out.  With the new Republican-strong senate, the cutback of CO2 emissions may be harder than planned.  But for now we can hope that the deal between the US and China will hold.  We can also hope that the EPA can stay strong with its CO2 regulations despite the new senators.  The Industrial Revolution may have been the cause of this pressing issue but hopefully as a country, we can stop any further detrimental damage to our environment.


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