Pollution Scorecard – WIF Environment

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Countries Causing

the Most

Pollution

If we humans were to have a collective hobby, it’d probably be ‘polluting the heck outta stuff’. As a species we chuck so much stuff into the atmosphere that there are arguably no pollution-free places left on Earth. Every year car exhausts, coal plants, forest fires and cow farts (seriously) wind up choking our atmosphere and heading the planet towards what we’re gonna call Climate-ageddon.

 But who’s really to blame for this planet-sized catastrophe? Well, it’s hard to tell, exactly. If you measure pollution per capita, then Canada is far and away the biggest emitter. On the other hand, if you measure environmental impact in terms of those killed by pollution, then the tiny nation of Georgia outstrips even China. On the other hand, if you look at it in terms of actual greenhouse house gas emissions, then there is one clear winner… scroll down to see it. But first, the 10 worst polluters in real terms, according to the Global Carbon Atlas.

10. Canada (557 mtCO2 emitted per year)

The second biggest nation on Earth, Canada is essentially an icy wilderness ringed by a tiny human population clinging desperately to its slightly-less frozen parts. It’s a land of virgin forest, desolate mountain ranges, crystal blue lakes, and enough pollution to suffocate a herd of buffalo. Sorry, what?

Yep, despite its squeaky-clean image, Canada is actually kind of dirty. And we don’t mean in the way yo momma is. Like the weed-addicted younger brother of America’s beer-swilling older sibling, Canada is puffing out more clouds of smoke than even the biggest bong-addict. Want the numbers? In 2015, Canada sent 557 mtCO2 (million tonnes of CO2) spewing into the air, from a population of 35.9 million. For comparison, the 11 th biggest polluter, Indonesia, sent 537 mtCO2 into the atmosphere from a population of over a quarter of a billion. And these guys have deadly annual smog that have killed 100,000 people.

Yet Canada may not keep its less-than-coveted 10th ranking for long. In October 2016, the government signed up for a carbon tax plan that could put the country on a path to a cleaner economy. Failing that, Indonesia’s pollution output is increasing like mad, so they’re probably about to overtake North America’s answer to Denmark pretty soon anyway.

9. South Korea (592 mtCO2 emitted per year)

On a peninsula half-occupied by the country of a demented fat man armed with nuclear weapons, South Korea can seem like a breath of fresh air. It’s clean, safe, modern, rich… and very, very dirty. Yeah, that ‘breath of fresh air’ we just mentioned? That was only metaphorical. Visit Seoul in spring, and it can feel like you’re trying to outdo your uncle’s four-pack-a-day habit with a single breath.

Partly, this is China’s fault. The neighboring super-polluter sends its toxic gunk spewing over both Koreas like an annoying kid repeatedly chucking his carcinogenic death-ball into your yard. But the Global Carbon Atlas doesn’t track pollution caused by other countries. Plenty of Seoul’s clean air problems come from the Republic of Korea itself. As NPR has pointed out, the country is powered by 50 coal plants, with more on their way. Then there’s the sheer size of their capital. Seoul has a bigger population than New York or London, and everyone’s driving cars. For comparison, dystopian nightmare LA recorded 7 days of air ranked ‘unhealthy’ in 2015. Seoul recorded 53.

So what’s South Korea doing to tackle this problem? Umm, nothing actually. They’re one of the few countries in smog-choked Asia Pacific that are increasing their carbon output.

8. Saudi Arabia (601 mtCO2 emitted per year)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the Saudi capital of Riyadh is one of the most polluted cities on Earth. Even Beijing doesn’t rank so highly in terms of horrifying stuff that’ll get into your lungs and make you feel like you’ve swallowed a cheese grater. While some of this is thanks to stuff beyond human control – namely, the region’s terrifying sandstorms – plenty can be laid squarely at the feet of the ruling classes. Across Saudi Arabia, industrial waste is let into the environment like it’s going out of fashion.

Part of this may be to do with the fact that the Wahhabist kingdom is a petro-state that bungs its 31 million citizens subsidized gas. Until recently, you could fill-up a medium-sized car from empty for about $7. While prices have gone up, that’s still a massive incentive to drive everywhere. Add lax rules with industrial waste and plenty of oil flowing, and it all adds up to a state where ‘environmental concerns’ are ranked by the government as a slightly lower priority than ‘literally anything else’.

Like South Korea, Saudi Arabia is not interested in cutting its current output by much. Although they signed up to a 50% clean energy target a while back, this was recently reduced to only 10%.

7. Iran (648 mtCO2 emitted per year)

A short hop over the Persian Gulf from Riyadh, and you arrive in one of the planet’s other super-polluters. The Islamic Republic of Iran is home to Ahvaz, a city with the unfortunate claim to fame of being literally the most polluted place on Earth. Air quality is so poor in this city of a million that the WHO can’t even measure how dangerous it is. Their official scale calls any place with over 20 micrograms of tiny, health-destroying PM10 particles per cubic meter of air a hazard. Ahvaz has over 372 micrograms of PM10s per cubic meter. You might as well just wire your lungs up to a sewage pipe as breathe this stuff.

But it’s not just Ahvaz. All across Iran, from Tehran to Qom, blankets of smog severely screw with people’s lives. In November 2016, all the capital’s schools had to be shut down due to clouds of killer fumes strangling the city. We aren’t using the word ‘killer’ lightly. Over 400 people died from the pollution in just 23 days.

Aside from a reliance on petrochemical industries, one big reason for Iran’s bad air is the sanctions placed on it following the Islamic Revolution. Fume-belching cars and low-grade fuel were all anyone could afford for decades, contributing to the current situation.

6. Germany (798 mtCO2 emitted per year)

So, we’re probably all pretty surprised to see Germany on this list. The economic powerhouse of the EU, Germany is also supposed to be unfailingly clean and efficient. Which it totally is… provided you just concentrate on visible dirt. Focus on those pesky invisible PM10s, and wandering through Germany’s cities is like stepping into a blizzard of flying death.

 Stuttgart, for example, has been called “Germany’s Beijing”. While you won’t get the same clouds of smog you get in China, you’ll still get pretty unhealthy air. Hazardous particles exceeded the legal limit for 64 days in 2014, more than Seoul and Los Angeles combined. Elsewhere, things are just as bad. 28 areas of Germany, including Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, have levels of air pollution considered dangerous. In 2013 alone, hazardous amounts of nitrogen dioxide were estimated to have killed over 10,600 Germans.

Things have gotten so bad that the EU recently threatened to hit Germany with a hefty fine if it didn’t clean up its act (literally). Not that they can really talk. Taken as a single nation, the EU would be the 3rd biggest polluter on Earth.

5. Japan (1,237 mtCO2 emitted per year)

Leaping upwards a few hundred million tonnes of CO2 per year, orderly Japan emits enough bad gas per annum to make it Asia Pacific’s 2nd biggest polluter. Man, what is it with these supposedly clean countries and terrible air quality?

Actually, we’re being pretty unkind here. Japan may be a high-level emitter today, but it’s a squeaky-clean utopia compared to what came before. In the 1960s, Japan was what China is now: a smog-choked industrial powerhouse that was raking in billions, even as it killed hundreds of thousands of its citizens with horrifically unsafe air. Some pollution-related illnesses, such as Minamata Disease, are still known globally after the Japanese cities where they were first identified. It was only after a massive push to curb emissions in the 1970s that Japan started its slow climb down from smog-filled dystopia to the relatively clean place it is today.

In fact, things would likely be even better, were it not for Japan’s recent reliance on coal fired power stations. 2014 was the country’s second-worst year for emissions on record. For that, you can thank the Fukushima disaster of 2011. The only nuclear disaster in history to come within touching distance of Chernobyl, it resulted in nearly all of Japan’s nuclear plants being shut down and replaced with coal fired ones.

4. Russian Federation (1,617 mtCO2 emitted per year)

If you need an illustration of how polluted Russia is, look no further than the town of Karabash. A small town 100 miles north of Kazakhstan, Karabash is home to only 13,000 people… possibly because no one else is fundamentally insane enough to live there. The river water is orange. The lake is dead and red. A mile-long ridge of black slag runs through the town. The air is so nasty it causes your eyes to sting and your throat to burn. Children have multiple birth defects. In 1996, the government declared it a disaster zone.

Of course, most Russians don’t live in a city even remotely approaching this bleak state. But even in the richer, western cities, things can still get bad. Moscow occasionally records pollution at ‘especially dangerous’ levels, and, in 2010, was hit by a suffocating smog more like something you’d see in Beijing. Still, it’s the Siberian industrial towns that are really to blame for Russia’s impact on climate change.

Interestingly, the Kremlin doesn’t seem too bothered about combatting this. Although Moscow announced a recent carbon reduction plan, some analysts have said it’ll actually increase emissions in the long term.

3. India (2,274 mtCO2 emitted per year)

When you’re emitting as much gunk into the air as Russia and Iran combined, you know you’ve got a problem. At least, you probably should. But India is something else. Home to five of the world’s most polluted cities, its insane population levels are contributing to an ecological bomb that could threaten the entire region. It’s estimated that up to 1.2 million people die in India each year due to air pollution. That’s equivalent to the entire population of Prague dropping dead every 12 months.

Although India has signed up to cut emissions and move towards clean energy, economists are asking whether this will be possible in a practical sense. India’s economy is booming, but it’s still a long, long way behind even China in terms of supplying a decent standard of living for its poorest citizens. Hundreds of millions still lack electricity. Tens of millions are stuck in poverty so dire most of us can’t even imagine it. Central to India’s recent economic gains have been its reliance on cheap, atmosphere-destroying coal. Take that away, and Delhi worries it will be condemning its citizens to an eternity of moneyless misery.

On the other hand, India is also one of the countries that will be most affected by climate change, with its coastal cities being flooded and crops destroyed. Huh. Some choice.

2. USA (5,414 mtCO2 emitted per year)

Sorry to any frat bros out there hoping to start up a chant of “USA! USA!” when America snagged the top spot. The good ol’ US-of-A ain’t even close to being the planet’s number one emitter. That’s not to say they’re a slouch, though. With over 5,000 million tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere each year, the USA is laying into the atmosphere with more gusto than nearly any other country on Earth.

“But hang on,” you may be thinking, “the US doesn’t have any of the post-apocalyptic pollution wastelands you’ve written about for most other entries.” Well, no, maybe not. But that doesn’t mean bad stuff isn’t happening. A 2016 report by the American Lung Association found more than half the country’s population lives at risk of breathing in dangerous air pollution. That’s 166 million Americans at risk of asthma, cancer, heart disease and reproductive problems, all thanks to the air they’re breathing.

To be fair, the US’s air problems don’t all start in Washington. The smog in Western states frequently starts life in China and India, before drifting into the USA and causing misery for millions. Still, America isn’t totally innocent. According to the Global Carbon Atlas, it’s still one of the biggest emitters, however you cut it. Yet even this pollution behemoth has nothing on…

1. China (10,357 mtCO2 emitted per year)

Be honest: you saw this coming, didn’t you? No other country on Earth emits as much smoggy nastiness as China. If the USA, India, Russia and Japan were all to suddenly decide to conglomerate into a single state (we’re not exactly sure why or how), that new super-nation would still only be emitting the same amount of greenhouse gas as China. If polluting was an Olympic sport, China would bring home gold every single time.

You hardly need us to repeat all the stories of China’s toxic air. The deadly smog that suffocate entire regions. The impenetrable haze that makes seeing more than a few meters in front of your face an impossibility in Beijing. The studies that have compared breathing the country’s air to being as bad for you as smoking. It’s all grim stuff that’s pretty well known.

But hey, at least China signed up to the Paris Agreement, right? And Beijing seems pretty down with combating this whole ‘toxic air’ thing. Not quite. Recent data has shown that China’s air crisis is actually getting worse as time goes by. Expect them to stay at #1 for some time yet.


Pollution Scorecard

WIF Environment

No Helium, No Fun – WIF Science

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 If We

Ran Out

of Helium

Helium Balloons GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Helium was first discovered in 1895. It is the second most abundant element in the universe and it makes up 0.0005 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. It is a colorless, odorless gas that is lighter than air and it is the coldest liquid on Earth.

 While it’s abundant in the universe, on Earth, we might be running out of it. You may not know it, but helium is an important part of modern life and possible shortages have been such a big worry that the United States government has been stockpiling helium since the 1960s.

The problem is that once helium hits the atmosphere, it is pretty much useless, so it needs to be mined or pull from natural gas. This makes helium a finite element on Earth.

So what would a post-helium world look like?

10. No More Party and Parade Balloons

When the American government first announced a possible shortage of helium in April 2012, one of the first things suggested to conserve helium is to stop using it to fill up party balloons and balloons used in parades. This is pretty hard to argue against because it’s a completely frivolous use of the a finite element, even if you can get a good laugh out of listening to people’s voices change after inhaling the gas and parades won’t be as exciting. However, as you’ll see, helium has a lot more important uses.

Unfortunately, eliminating helium filled balloons isn’t going to solve the problem of helium running out, because only a minuscule amount of helium is used to fill up balloons. It would be like a pack a day smoker trying to avoid cancer by taking one last puff every year.

9. Airships

The Goodyear Blimp over Dodger Stadium. (Courtesy photo)

One reason that helium is so useful in many different fields is that it is safe to use because it isn’t flammable or combustible. This makes it great for flying machines like blimps. When blimps are filled with a different lighter-than-air gas, such as hydrogen, which is both combustible and flammable, things can go horribly wrong. A notable example is the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, when the German blimp LZ 129 Hindenburg burst into flames while trying to dock at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst in New Jersey. In total, 36 people were killed. While the cause is debated, the fact that the airship was full of flammable and combustible gas wouldn’t have exactly slowed down the fire.

Granted, blimps aren’t common and most people have probably only seen one at an air show or a football game, but amazingly they are still used by different segments of the United States government. One example is the Tethered Aerostat Radar System(TARS). They are unmanned blimps that are used to detect low and slow flying aircraft and marine craft. It’s currently being used along the American-Mexican border and in a portion of the Caribbean.

Another blimp used by the United States is the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, which is used to track things like cruise missiles or even trucks full of explosives. The project has been in development for over two decades and the Pentagon has spent at least $2.7 billion on the project.

A whole other field of flight that wouldn’t work without helium is balloon space tourism. Currently, there are two companies that plan on sending people into space using helium filled balloons. For $75,000 to $125,000, travelers can get into pressurized pods and the balloons will lift them out of the atmosphere. This is similar to the way Felix Baumgartner got to space to do his famous jump.

However, without helium, attempting to reach space in a balloon would be much more dangerous.

8. A Leak Checking Tool

When the Manhattan Project started in 1942, it was important that when they enriched the uranium needed for a nuclear bomb, there couldn’t be any leaks in the pipes or tanks during the process. Even a tiny leak could have been disastrous.

To ensure everything was sealed, the scientists sprayed the welding seams with helium. If there was a leak, the helium would get into it, because out of all the elements, helium has the second smallest atom (hydrogen is smaller, but it is inert, which means it doesn’t move). So helium can find really small leaks, which helps ensure that the tanks and pipes are sealed.

Besides just having a small atom, helium is also non-toxic, non-condensable, and non-flammable, so spraying it won’t leave a trace behind.

Since the Manhattan Project, helium has gone on to be a common way to detect leaks in more than just tanks and pipes. It is used in such industries as food canning, refrigeration, air conditioning, furnace repair, fire extinguishers, aerosol cans, and car parts, just to name a few. Essentially, any industry that relies on sealed cans use helium to look for leaks. That means without helium, we may have products that be will more dangerous because they are leaking, and/or products will be more expensive because some other method will need to be implemented to detect leaks in all those different fields.

7. Some Welding Will be Impossible

One of the most common applications for helium is welding; about 23 percent of the world’s helium supply is used for welding purposes.

Certain arc welding jobs, which is the process of joining two metals using electricity, depends on helium because it is used to keep the molten metal from oxidizing. One type of metal that couldn’t be welded without helium is aluminum. That means things like shipbuilding and building space shuttles will be much more difficult to do.

However, arc welding isn’t the only type of welding that utilizes helium. CO2 laser welding, which is used in car manufacturing, uses helium as a shielding gas. Shielding gas is used to keep the molten metal away from other elements in the air, like oxygen, water, and nitrogen. Without helium, this could cause an increase in vehicle prices while alternative methods are implemented.

6. Barcodes

One of the most common ways that we interact with helium is at the supermarket. Barcodes scanners use helium-neon lasers, also known as HeNe lasers and they use a gas ratio of 10:1 helium to neon. HeNe lasers are used because they are inexpensive, have a low energy consumption, and they are efficient. Besides just barcode scanning, HeNe lasers are also used in other fields, like microscopy, spectroscopy, optical disc reading, biomedical engineering, metrology, and holography.

Of course, the good news in this example is that, as many of you with smart phones already know, there are other ways to scan codes. It will just be a matter of changing over to the new forms of scanning.

5. Space Travel Would Become More Dangerous

A field that would be incredibly hard hit by a lack of helium is the aerospace industry. NASA reportedly uses about 90 to 100 million cubic feet of helium a year in a whole variety of ways.

One way is that when a rocket burns fuel, the fuel that was in the tank is replaced with helium. This ensures that the tank doesn’t collapse under structural pressure. This also reduces the risk of fire or an explosion in the fuel tank. Helium is also useful during space travel because it keeps hot gases away from ultra-cold liquids.

A third way that NASA uses helium is to clean liquid oxygen out of tanks. Finally, there are other minor uses, like it’s needed for pneumatic control systems and it cools fueling handling systems.

Without helium, space travel will still be possible, but it will be a lot more dangerous than it already is.

4. The Large Hadron Collider will be Useless

It’s believed the Large Hadron Collider at CERN can help unlock many of the universe’s mysteries. It’s the biggest, most powerful machine on earth, and it smashes subatomic particles together almost as fast as the speed of light. And in order for the whole thing to work, liquid helium is needed.

Shooting those particles around the 16.7 mile loop are magnets that steer the particle beams. However, they can quickly overheat and they need to be cooled with liquid helium to -452.47 degrees. Also, the niobium-titanium wires that make up the magnets that shoot the particle beams around the loop are housed in a closed liquid-helium circuit that is -456.25 degrees. Liquid helium also cools the entire system down to -456.34 degrees. 

Without liquid helium, the Large Hadron Collider would literally become, and we’re gonna use a technical term here, a hot mess.

3. MRI Scans Will Be Less Common

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a common tool in the medical field and it is used to non-invasively look inside the human body at things like ligaments, spinal cords, and organs, including the brain. A lot of times, ailments like torn ligaments and tumors are diagnosed using MRI machines. However, without helium it will be impossible to run these machines.

How an MRI works is that a magnet is powered and it creates a magnetic field. This field causes the protons of hydrogen atoms in your body to align and then they are exposed to a beam of radio waves. This creates a signal that is picked up by a receiver, which converts the information to a detailed image. However, maintaining that large magnetic field requires a lot of energy. To get that much power and sustain it without overheating, helium is used and that is done by reducing the resistance in the wires to almost zero. This is accomplished by constantly bathing the wires in liquid helium that is -452.38 degrees. On average, one machine uses 1,700 liters of liquid helium.

While there are MRI magnet cooling systems that do not use helium, the problem is that they are not designed for full body MRI machines, like the ones that are in hospitals.

2. Computer Chips and Fiber Optics

As we’ve mentioned a few times, helium is commonly used for cooling. In fact, nearly a third of it is used for cryogenics. One notable feat is that it can be cooled to temperatures near absolute zero, which is -459.67 degrees. This makes it the coldest liquid on Earth.

Another field where cold helium is vital in computers and telecommunications. One of the main uses is with fiber optics, which are cables that are used to connect the internet and telecommunications. Fiber optics can transfer more data over longer distances than wire cables. However, they are much more fragile than wire cables and they need to be housed an in all-helium environment or it can cause air bubbles, which would make them useless.

Another way helium is used when it comes to computers is that computer chips are made using superconductors. Superconductors are basically magnets that are supercharged and don’t overheat thanks to liquid helium.

Without helium, computer chips will be incredibly hard to make. This is going to have big ripple effects on everything that uses computer chips. This includes cars, smart phones, appliances, and of course computers.

1. Scientific Progress Will Be Slowed

The Large Hadron Collider is the biggest experiment that uses helium, but it is also necessary for use in all different types of experiments and machines that are used in universities and laboratories around the world. The reason it’s used is because it’s safe because it isn’t flammable or combustible, which is great for researchers, especially students who are still learning.

So other elements, much more dangerous ones, will have to be used to cool the machines. This will clearly slow down progress and make experiments and machines more dangerous. Even if there was a way to run the machines, that means they will have to be retrofitted or purchased new, which isn’t cheap. For example, Western Michigan University’s chemistry department has a $250,000 machine that needs helium and they have a tank of helium delivered monthly. That is just one department at one university.

Without helium, all fields of scientific study that rely on machines that use helium will be slowed down this includes physics, medical science, chemistry, and computer science, just to name a few. In turn, scientific study will be severely handicapped.


No Helium, No Fun

WIF Science

Where Pollution Got Its Start – WIF Industry

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Facts About

the Industrial Age

The Industrial Age saw the formation of many new technologies that would change the face of Great Britain and the world. From deeper coal mines, dirty factories, to the advent of the steam engine and canals, here are 10 fascinating facts about the Industrial Age.

10. It Began in Britain

It’s widely thought that the Industrial Revolution began in Britain, thanks to its status as a global trading power. By the mid-18th century, inventions like the flying shuttle, the spinning jenny, and the power loom increased the production speed of England’s textiles, requiring less manpower and time.

This explosion of new manufacturing capabilities also helped to further Britain’s imperialist goals, while their new textile production capabilities helped supply British colonies, where clothing and other goods were in high demand.

Among these new advances was the smelting of iron ore with coke (not that coke!)(or that one either), a material which was made from the heating of coal. This was a major step up from the old way of smelting, which utilized charcoal during the process, proving to be a much more efficient and cheaper means of production that also yielded stronger materials.

9. Coal

The importance of coal to the Industrial Revolution can be debated; the fact remains, however, that coal was in high demand during the 1700s and the early 1800s thanks to the needs of factories across the industrialized world. While Historians like EA Wrigley and Arnold Toynbee (the latter being the man who popularized the term Industrial Revolution) made the argument that coal was essential to the success of the Industrial Revolution, others suggest that this was purely due to increased demand, rather than the advancement of mining technologies.

As a result of this increased demand, mines had to get deeper, and consequently more dangerous to the miners who braved their depths. Miners had to worry about gas flooding, which would cause an entire mine to explode just from a single strike of a pickaxe, as well as poison gases, and collapses.

Coal, however, was extremely expensive and difficult to move, forcing entire towns to set up around mining operations. This created issues with how mining towns developed further, as no planning or forethought was given to what facilities miners and their families might need.

8. The First Modern Factory

The first true factory was built by Richard Arkwright in Cromford, Derby, and its construction would help launch the Industrial Revolution and change Great Britain forever. Not long after its construction, it ended up employing more than 300 people, something which had been unheard of as the domestic system only required a few people to work from home. Arkwright’s patented spinning frame sped up the production of textiles by leaps and bounds.

The factory employed mostly unskilled workers, except for a few engineers. In the domestic system, workers could set their own hours and enjoyed a great deal of flexibility, but in this new factory, workers were governed by the clock and strict factory rules.

But despite the strict working conditions in factories which sprang up after Arkwright’s, weavers were well paid, and by 1850, more than 250,000 unskilled laborers would be employed.

But, for all the benefits factories offered, they were run for profit, and safety precautions were hardly a concern for owners. Clothing in the mid-1800s was fairly loose, and an obvious danger while working Arkwright’s spinning frame.

7. Migration of People to Cities

Rural communities saw mass migration of people looking for wage-based jobs in big cities like London. In fact, by 1850, over 50% of Great Britain’s population lived in cities, rather than rural communities like the mining towns that fed their coal demand. Part of this is due to a dramatic reduction in the death rate. The bubonic plague all but vanished during this period, and the hunger which left so many people vulnerable to disease was also alleviated, allowing for a population explosion in Great Britain, Germany, and many other countries.

The politics of the time had changed drastically from previous eras. It’s strange to think that there was a time when people weren’t free to move where they liked, but in the feudal system and to some degree the domestic system, this was often the case. Additionally, the tolerance of religions not connected to Christianity and the Catholic church was growing.

In the United States, an increase in demand for workers since the abolishment of slavery saw people from countries who feared social unrest from their proletariat migrating as well, and indeed, even in the US city populations grew.

But as a consequence of this explosion of population, other countries feared that socialism would rise, and from that fear came the nationalist ideology which would lead to the start of World War I.

6. Canal Mania

The advent of the market demands of the 19th century forced factories and mining communities to devise a method of shipping massive quantities of goods and food in a way that was both quick and efficient. Roads at the time were little more than tracks and could not support the forty-ton loads that most barges could support utilizing the canal system.

Canals were dug by men and filled with water capable of supporting barges. Perishables needed to be shipped quickly, and the growing canal systems allowed for this to be accomplished.

By the end of the 19th century, Britain would construct the largest ship canal in the world, known as the Manchester ship canal.

Before the Industrial Revolution, the rich were often born rich, and the poor rarely rose in station. The introduction of the canal system completely changed that, providing jobs and creating entire industries.

Shipping goods via canals did have its problems, though, and these problems would see their popularity and demand fall. For one, they would often freeze during winter, and during the summer a canal could dry up completely. Foods that spoiled easily couldn’t be shipped via barge, too. By the 1850s, railways began to take over as the dominant shipping method in Britain.

5. Lack of Scientific Censorship

Before the Industrial Revolution, some scientific ideas were simply off-limits. Britain had a major advantage during the 1700s and 1800s over other countries in that it did not censor the exchange of scientific ideas.

Though the importance of this attitude on the continued industrialization of Britain is contested, the development of the steam engine and the improvements made to it would not have been possible without the free approach to the sciences in the 1700s and 1800s in Britain. Industry also greatly improved the rate at which science expanded.

It is somewhat remarkable to think that not long ago we once thought our Earth was the center of the universe, and the Milky Way the only galaxy.

It was also during this period that the laws of Thermodynamics were established, as well as the beginnings of what would lead to the atomic age, and it can be argued that these advancements helped pave the way for the second Industrial Revolution which would dominate the early 20th century.

4. Mass Production of Goods

Thanks to the advances in production methods, for the first time in history it became possible to mass-produce goods. In previous eras, clothing and other textile products were typically only produced locally, but during the Industrial Revolutionmass production allowed for entirely new business models to be tested around the world.

However, this also meant that much of the work done was now being governed by a crude level of automation (at least when compared to the automation of today) and workers in factories lost the connection they once had to the consumer buying their products. This also meant that workers would have little idea of what impact their work had on the final product.

Food and other perishables before the Industrial Age could never have been shipped as efficiently or quickly before the development of the steam engine or the creation of canals, a thing which was virtually unheard of in the Domestic System.

3. The Rise of Steam

In 1698, Tomas Savery patented a pump with hand-operated valves which was meant to raise water through suction produced by condensing steam. Around 1712, this design was refined by Thomas Newcomer, into a more efficient steam engine, and in 1765 James Watt improved these designs even further by adding a separate condenser to avoid temperature extremes in the cylinder. Watt would continue to add onto the device, and its final form would essentially be a portable power plant.

It can’t be stressed enough how important the steam engine was during the first Industrial Revolution, and the use of steam engines became widespread throughout the industrialized world, being used in factories, trains, and ships, and allowing for far more automation than was possible before its advent.

In fact, it’s thought that without the steam engine, many of the advances made during the Industrial Age would not have been possible, especially when it comes to automation and improving the speeds at which trains and boats were capable of traveling at.

2. The Cost of Pollution

Despite the advances in technology and automation and the ability to mass produce goods, these advances took a huge toll on the environment. It’s estimated that pollution in the cities of Manchester and Leeds skyrocketed by nearly 40% in just one year. Despite the use of drainage systems in some cities, the disposal of human and animal wastes was extremely primitive, leading to a whole host of public health hazards.

Due to so many factories utilizing coal to power their steam engines, the air quality in many cities took a sharp dive, and water supplies meant for consumption by humans were sometimes used to drain human excrement from beneath buildings, forcing the population of cities like London to drink contaminated water, leading to massive outbreaks of cholera.

Cholera is an extremely fatal disease caused by bacteria in water supplies, and still kills thousands of people every year in undeveloped nations.

But cholera wasn’t the only disease running rampant through crowded cities in the Industrial Age, poor hygiene caused by cramped living conditions and a lack of access to clean water led to outbreaks of Typhus and Tuberculosis, with the latter being one of the most deadly diseases of the time.

1. The Technological Revolution

From the 19th to the 20th centuries, cities exploded in size and population, and new technologies altered people’s lives even further than the advances made in the first Industrial Revolution. The incredible development of steel, ceramics, chemicals, and electricity harnessing devices all served to change how the world worked, and people found their lives being governed by the clock rather than the flow of day and night.

But as with the prior Industrial Revolution, child labor and appalling factory conditions continued to be a problem, and in some cases worsened. This would eventually lead to the formation of unions and the banning of child labor.

Many of the technological advancements made during this time were directed toward warfare, and all kinds of household goods like soap and butter stopped being made by households.

While some historians quarrel over when exactly the second Industrial Revolution started, its impact on the world cannot be understated. Many of the advances made during this time had a profound effect on the world we live in today.


Where Pollution Got Its Start

WIF Industry