“ALL FIRED UP”
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
Beginning 1760 AD
|This painting is of an industrial factory by Herman Heyenbrock, circa 1890.
Credit: Image by Herman Heyenbrock, courtesy of Wikipedia.
By the latter half of the 1700’s, major transformations were underway in Europe to harness energy and use it for various purposes, including manufacturing, transportation, mining and agriculture. Tasks that previously had been done by human hand or with animal power, or when possible with water or wind power, were now starting to be done with other energy sources and ingenious inventions that performed the tasks faster, or more reliably, or in greater volume than had ever before been possible. Key inventions in this social revolution include the steam engine, various inventions to process cotton or produce fibers, powered looms, threshing devices and mechanical plows, and new ways to produce iron with cheap fossil fuel (coal) rather than charcoal. This transformation is commonly called the ‘Industrial Revolution.’
The Industrial Revolution eventually led to mass production in many areas of manufacturing (such as textiles), emergence of factories, the rise of a middle class, and the beginning of modern capitalism. But it also produced also a variety of social ills as well, including large populations living with disease and squalor in the growing industrial cities, the dwindling or loss of many crafts, large-scale child labor abuses, and growing pollution problems, including a dramatic rise in carbon dioxide levels on the earth starting around 1800, just a few decades after this Revolution got underway.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
The mechanized world we live in today really began with the Industrial Revolution. Before this development, the majority of people lived in rural areas, traveled by foot or horse power, made their living through working the land or through various skilled crafts. After this transformation was under way, the move to cities began in earnest, skilled workmanship gave way to mass production (with each worker repeatedly performing a small part of the overall process), and a new set of ‘classes’ of people emerged – the wealthy industrialists, the middle class, and the working class. This also set forth a great appetite for the raw materials to fuel the new industries, including coal and other fossil fuels, iron, and land to grow cotton and other materials, as well as labor to work the land and factories, including slaves. Thus the Industrial Revolution also fostered colonization of less developed parts of the world by the growing industrial nations, with the accompanying issues of justice and independence that have endured for the ensuing centuries.
This is an article about the environmental impact of the Industrial Revolution.
This is about the Industrial Revolution in the United States.
This is about the origins of the Industrial Revolution in England.
A Youtube viedo about the Industrial Revolution.
Turning Points in History – Industrial Revolution