The Major Effects of Industrialization

120 years ago or so, the industrial revolution was taking off. All sorts of machines were being invented, powered by coal, electricity, gas, you name it. People were being blessed with greater ease in manufacturing, more readily available necessities, safer and healthier foods, and a host of other good things. However, while humans were benefiting from this new rush of industrial craze, the earth wasn’t fairing so well.

Today however, being environmentally friendly is the new vogue. From the middle of the 20th century on, the population of the planet has been taking a closer look at the effects of industrialization. Books like Silent Spring (1962) or Dr. Suess’ children’s story The Lorax drew attention to the sad state of the world around us. Disasters like that in Seveso, Italy, where an explosion rocked a chemical facility, became frighteningly frequent. Thousands of Japanese residents were affected with Minamata disease, brought on by extreme mercury poisoning, from the Chisso Corporation’s dumping of chemicals. In the United States, the Upper Sacramento River was contaminated with 20,000 gallons of chemicals that were dumped into it, killing every form of marine life in a 38 mile radius. With dozens of these events occurring, people realized something must be done. The 1970s saw a landslide of government legislation passed in America that made enormous leaps and bounds in environmental protection. The creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and statutes like the Clear Air Act, the Clean Water Act, Food Quality Protection Act, Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, and countless others came into effect and has stood as guardians of the earth.

Now, environmental protection among the little folks is helping too. People are more careful about wasting resources. Steps taken in the home, like being frugal with water and electricity and gas are stretching these resources further. A popular campaign has been for people to use canvas bags for groceries as opposed to plastic bags, which are known for being virtually indestructible and are dangerous to animal life. Recycling, the practice of reusing items like glass, plastic, and metal has become huge in the last 30 years and has drastically lowered the amount of waste created by humans. Landfill gas recovery, a technique that turns methane gas created by waste in landfills into natural gas that can be used for energy, is also drawing additional resources from the world’s refuse.

The world we live in is a wonderful place, and we are fortunate to be on this planet. Earth however, can be hurt and damaged, and as its population, humans must care for it and ensure the continued health of the planet. Hundreds of programs have been created to guard wildlife, plant life, air quality, and other aspects of the natural world. Arbor Day, a holiday each year, celebrates the Earth and is a day set aside for doing something good for the environment. While humans have great capacity to harm the planet, they also possess the powerful ability to heal and preserve it.