The Industrial Revolution began in the mid-eighteenth century when Britain changed from an agrarian society into an industrialized country where machines replaced humans, and goods were produced manifold. Soon, it spread to the whole of Europe, then America, and the entire world.
It changed how mankind dressed, ate, moved, and thought; people welcomed it with a good heart and thought it as a gateway to a better and prosperous life.
One innovation led to another and more factories were built which means that the infrastructure of cities and towns was changing rapidly. There were now more industrial zones than the open fields.
Since cities were the center of industrialization, a large number of people moved there. This led to massive urbanization. Now, more people had excess to fine clothing and other goods for they had got cheaper due to mass production.
Besides, the invention of locomotive engines transformed transportation modes massively, making traveling easier and faster for people. There was a boom in trade and commerce which means more wealth.
The Dark Side of Industrial Revolution
This picture of the Industrial Revolution looks perfect. However, there is another side of it as well.
As more people started working in factories, the surrounding areas, where these laborers lived, became highly populated. As a result, living conditions such as sanitation worsened.
Labors’ right to a healthy environment at the workplace was not fulfilled, and their wages were also kept very low. On the other hand, both machines at the factories and locomotive engines on the tracks were running on coal which produced harmful particles on burning. Finally, because machines were doing more work both at homes and factories, humans were not burning the food they ate healthily.
Thus, the Industrial Revolution, from its start till now, has put some negative impacts on the world too; be it socio-economically, environmentally, or our health and lifestyle, it has affected us on all levels.
1. Environmental Impacts
Some of the environmental effects of Industrial Revolution are:
The Industrial Revolution and global warming:
From the beginning of the Industrial Revolution when coal was the main source of energy to the mid 20th century when fossil oil overtook the industries, and to the current time when both forms of fossil fuels are massively used, carbon emissions have always caused tremendous harm to the environment.
Due to excess carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the average temperature of the earth has risen by 0.8 to 1 Degree Celsius over the last hundred years, causing global warming.
Our ecosystem needs a specific temperature to function in a balanced way. But due to global warming, glaciers are melting in many parts of the world, sea levels are rising high, forests are burning, and weather patterns are changing such as summers are getting hotter and winters colder. Also, the migration of birds has been affected by global warming.
The role of the Industrial Revolution in pollution
Over the past two centuries, industries have advanced to a great extent and manufacturing methods have become highly complex. Therefore, now, more by-products and wastes are released in the environment. Factories dispose of their extremely toxic chemicals into rivers, lakes, and oceans, causing water pollution.
Other than that, the industrial facilities and power plants contaminate the air by emitting gases such as Carbon dioxide (CO2), Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and Sulfur dioxide (SO₂). These gases are very hazardous for human health and can cause lung and heart diseases.
Plastic, the most Threatening Invention
Because of the low cost, flexibility, and other physical properties, plastic has dominated other materials in the industries over the last few decades.
But the drawback of plastic is that it does not decompose easily like other products. It takes about 400 years for the plastic material to completely breakdown, meaning that it will stay in the environment for a longer time and cause problems.
Out of all pollutants, plastic has become the biggest environmental threat. It is huge, both in terms of scale and damage. Each year, more than 8 million tons of plastic go to oceans that create problems for the animals living there. A large number of sea creatures and coastal birds are dying due to either eating plastic or becoming entangled in them.
2. Social & Economical Effects
The social and economical impacts of the Industrial Revolution are explained below;
Industrial Revolution & the Social Structure
The class system was always there in England even before the Industrial Revolution began, but it changed drastically afterward.
Farmers left farming for the sack of working in the factories, and formed the “working class”. Artisans living in the cities also joined them. These workers mostly lived near the factories. As their number grew fast, more problems started emerging.
There was a lack of proper sanitation, clean drinking water, and other living facilities. This led to the outbreak of cholera and other diseases.
Besides this, the workers including women and children were working for 6 days a week and 12 hours a day throughout a year. The routine was quite unhealthy, especially for the children.
Economic Exploitation of the working class
People that benefited the most from the Industrial Revolution belonged to the upper class (land and factory owners) and middle class (merchants and other professionals).
They now had more wealth and greater access to goods and other privileges such as quality education and health facilities.
However, the working class suffered financially because their wages were kept low. And in case, if any of them had an injury or became ill, they were not paid during that time. This caused a high spike in the crime rate in cities, leading to the formation of the police department.
Inequality of wealth, a dilemma in the current world
More than two hundred and fifty years have passed since the Industrial Revolution began. But still, unequal distribution of wealth is very prevalent in most parts of the world where the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.
In most of the Asian developing countries, the major portion of the working class is low-paid without any incentives and allowances, making them live below the line of poverty.
3. Effects of Industrial revolution on health & lifestyle
Through the ages of industrialization, human life has transformed a lot. There were times when people were physically more active. Now, they do everything with the help of machines.
Look around your surroundings, how many machines are there? You will find many; even your belongings such as your pen, books, and clothes, the door handle of your room, and the mugs in your kitchen are all made with the help of machines.
We are constantly relying on machines to make our lives easier and more comfortable. However, this desire for comfort is harming us in many ways. Our health is deteriorating; one of the main reasons behind the wide spreading of ailments such as diabetes, heart diseases, and mental health issues is the lack of exercise and movement.
Keeping all the negative impacts of the Industrial Revolution in view, it is the dire need of the time to change our perspectives about advancement, and prosperity on all levels. Individuals, society, government, and corporate all must take part in this.
Mankind has done great damage to the environment and ecosystem for the search of a better life. It is time to rethink and redefine things.
We cannot reverse the decisions that were taken through history. But, we can review our policies and reform our strategies to build a sustainable world where economic growth and innovation do not take place at the cost of environmental stability. We owe our future generations a healthy lifestyle and a clean environment where they live a quality life.