Impact of the Industrial Revolution on the Environment Essay

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Impact of the Industrial Revolution on the Environment

Human population growth on this planet has followed a long, slow J-curve shape leading up to a nearly exponential growth beginning around the time of the modern Industrial Revolution in the 1800s (Southwick, ch. 15). As the Industrial Revolution continues to spread to less-developed countries, their population growth is now skyrocketing as increased access to food and medical care raises the standards of living around the world, while many cultures have not yet responded with a lowered birth rate. This scenario is exactly what happened in London in the 1800s, when the pollution and overpopulation of the beginnings of dirty industry were in full swing.

Britain, with its large
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Many children developed rickets, a weak bone condition brought on by a Vitamin D (which comes from sunlight) deficiency. Tubercolosis was rampant among the adult population.

London was famous for its “smog”, thought to be a mixture of smoke and fog, up until the middle of the 20th century. By the end of the 1800s Lonon had almost 60 thick smoggy days a year, resulting in thousands of deaths and meaning that the city got 40% less sunshine than the surrounding towns (Internet 1).

In addition to the human effects of this air pollution was a curious occurance in the local insect population. London had at this point a well-established population of gray peppered moths, which showed color variation between dark and light gray among its individuals. Naturalists from the Industrial Revolution onwards noticed that the peppered moth populations were changing- dark-gray moths were becoming more predominant in urban areas, while light-gray moths were more common in rural areas. This trend continued well into the 20th century, and in the 1950s H.B.D. Kettlewell, and English physician and moth collector, decided to study the problem.

He found that due to all the soot that had accumulated in the air over the last century and a half, the color of the trees in the urban areas had darkened substantially as the pollution settled over them. The peppered moths had long used tree trunks and branches as places to hide and camouflage their

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