Population Growth to Pollution

The current world population sits at about 7.5 billion people, and this number continues to increase by about 80 million people a year. Population growth in many ways has helped humanity progress. But as Timothy J. Barnett, a Professor of Political Science at Jacksonville State University, states the “eras in which population growth furthered the public good are behind us” and this could all be because of the Industrial Revolution.

Although some might say the world is overpopulated, others claim we have a couple billion people to go before the population will start to decrease; either way the growing human population has caused many problems for our home planet. Industrialization allowed for mass production of many goods which meant there were many factory jobs available in the booming cities. People began to flood from farm to the busy cities. All the sudden having a huge amount of people in a city caused problems like overcrowding, the spreading of diseases and unsanitary conditions. Although this population growth was caused by emigration, it still led to many of the same issues that global population growth has caused recently. Friedrich Engels, a German journalist in 1844, describes the conditions of Manchester, Germany. He describes the buildings being crammed together and “the [river] flows, or rather stagnates, the Irk, a narrow, coal-black, foul-smelling stream, full of debris and refuse, which it deposits on the shallower right bank.” This was the beginning of the overpopulation and the large amounts of pollution we see today. Today the effects of pollution are everywhere from garbage on the streets, to unclean air, to the destruction of habitats and many species.

The Industrial Revolution was a time of creativity and invention. Many new things were being invented to make life easier such as automobiles, machines, assembly lines and medicine. Medicine and new medical techniques like vaccines helped keep the death rates down and improve longevity. These were great medical advancements but now the human population is growing at alarming rates. Today, Timothy Barnett argues that “the subsidization of asset appreciation by imprudent population growth generates largely undeserved gains for those with concentrated capital. On a planet of finite size (diameter 7,917 miles) where limited natural resources are already under siege, some caution is in order, especially since well over half of the world’s population cannot earn a modern (European equivalent) lifestyle” and later Barnett says, ” in 2014 the world’s 85 richest people had as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s 7.5 billion population.” This large economic gap can be traced back to the industrial revolution which heighted many already existing economic gaps.


Barnett, Timothy J. “Global Growth: Democratic Capitalism’s Coming Waterloo.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Jan. 2017. Web. 05 Apr. 2017. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-j-barnett/global-growth-democratic-_b_14291354.html&gt;

Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1892), pp. 45, 48-53. <http://webs.bcp.org/sites/vcleary/ModernWorldHistoryTextbook/IndustrialRevolution/PSEnglesManchester.html&gt;


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