The catastrophe about to strike the earth in terms of climate change and environmental degradation is attributed to human efforts that date back to the 17th century. Before this period, the human population on earth was relatively low, barely 700 million people (Marks, 2020). The Agricultural Revolution of the 1700s is believed to have given the world population a growth spurt that has been sustained to date. With an increased population, overreliance on natural resources shot up.
The Industrial Revolution that came barely a century after the Agrarian Revolution piled on the catastrophes caused by the latter. Although it can be lauded for the current state of technology and other associated benefits, severe ramifications came with the Industrial Revolution. Foremost, the establishment of industries relied on the power that was obtained from coal. Coal was the most available and reliable source of the immense power required to run the industries. The mining of coal was disastrous to the environment. Gaping mines were left all over, the soil was exposed to erosion, and the agricultural productivity of the mine areas was destroyed. Over time, coal fuel became a leading cause of air pollution. The burning of coal in the industries released massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. An imbalance between the uptake of carbon dioxide and its release into the air thus ensued. Carbon dioxide accumulated in the atmosphere and formed a layer within the atmosphere. Gradually, this layer interfered with outgoing terrestrial radiation from the earth’s surface. The effect was an exponential phase of temperature rise within the earth, commonly referred to as global warming.
Water pollution was effectively initiated by industrialization. The industries, due to lack of proper planning, had an improper waste disposal system. They dumped industrial waste into water bodies. Organic and inorganic waste materials were disposed of in the rivers and lakes. Biochemical reactions between the waste materials and water resulted in the acidification or alkalization of the water. Effectively, aquatic life was deleteriously affected. Fish and other water animals succumbed to the change. Man’s food sources started to diminish. Moreover, plants that relied on the water started drying up from acidification. Fewer plants could survive that toxicity and eventually, those that could not adapt to the change became extinct. Of the plant life that was jeopardized, man’s crops were not left behind. Agricultural production decreased and supplements in the form of fertilizers had to be invented to keep agriculture thriving. Overall, for agricultural production to match the ever-growing population, man invented more intensive methods of production, such as chemical-based herbicides and pesticides, which only further contributed to environmental pollution.
Scientific and Medical Advancements
Industrialization, scientific, and medical advancements have had an indelible effect on the world. The advent of the three disciplines has made the world what it is today. Massive changes have occurred over time due to the Industrial Revolution, as well as scientific and medical advancements. The industrialization has resulted in the large-scale production of goods, which is necessary to support the massive human population on the planet. Currently, various factories serve to increase food production and supply. Consequently, people have turned to other occupations, such as engineering and technology, for their sustenance. This is unlike during the agrarian revolution period where agriculture was the focus. The diversity in occupations brought about by industrialization has revolutionized other sectors as well. Trade, for instance, has boomed. This has further been aided by the introduction of currency as a medium of exchange, as well as the adoption of banking concepts (Marks, 2020). The economy of the world no longer relies solely on agriculture for sustenance but also on other aspects of production as well. In social aspects, industrialization has increased connectivity across the world. For instance, transport channels, such as road, rail, air, and water, were not as expanded as they are today. Today, point-to-point transportation is now feasible.
Medical advancements have enabled the sustainability of life. Ailments, plagues, and disease have been the weakest point of man. Inventions in the field of medicine have boosted the efforts to combat maladies that have tormented mankind for generations. For example, the invention of penicillin, an antibiotic that is widely used to date, has enabled man to combat many diseases, such as syphilis (Musher, 1991). Additionally, the invention of vaccines to protect human beings against epidemics and pandemics has been the biggest milestone so far in the medical fields. Effectively, these ventures have increased the life expectancy among mankind (Marks, 2020). Compared to the 1700s, the quality of life is better now with the current medical inventions.
The negative effects of industrialization and scientific advancements cannot be overlooked. Wars, whenever they break out, are deadlier than in the past. Man has eventually used scientific knowledge to equip himself in fighting his fellow man. Gases have been used in wars to hazardous effects. For example, the genocide against the Jews by German ruler Adolf Hitler indicated the increased racism and segregation that resulted from the capitalist ventures of that time. Moreover, the invention of explosives and the atomic bomb has led to the loss of more lives than ever (Miller, 1956). This has been cited by many as ‘sick use of science’.
Carbon Pollution and Overpopulation
Over the last 250 years, industrialization has been the center of the world economy. One of the biggest industries to thrive is the motor vehicle industry, especially in Europe, the Far East, and North America (Marks 2020). These continents have manufactured millions of motor vehicles, which use fossil fuels such as diesel and petrol. In effect, carbon dioxide is released from the engines after the combustion of the fuel. Just like the coal-run industries, the result is massive loads of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Within the last quarter of a century, carbon pollution has been recorded as the biggest threat to the environment as global warming sets in.
Overpopulation of the earth is due to increased life expectancy and birth rate. With the advent of medicine and science, people no longer die at a young age. Increased food production has also been a contributing factor to a healthy population. These two factors combined have caused an increase in the human population over the last 250 years.
Marks, R. (2020). The origins of the modern world: A global and environmental narrative from
the fifteenth to the twenty-first century. Retrieved from https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=wQeaDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=Robert+Marks.+The+Origins+of+the+Modern+World.+4th+ed.+Lanham,+Maryland:+Rowman+%26+Little,+2020&ots=I0fbQKYQwX&sig=ScF5WK90RiY5bhQrQVVzMx2MJ40&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Robert%20Marks.%20The%20Origins%20of%20the%20Modern%20World.%204th%20ed.%20Lanham%2C%20Maryland%3A%20Rowman%20%26%20Little%2C%202020&f=false