Industrialization Impact on the Environment


Industrialization had various impacts on the environment mainly dueto the manufacturing processes that produced a lot of effluents. Theproblem also heightened due to lack of proper waste managementpractice as well as poor planning for the mushrooming industries.People cropped houses on almost every available piece of land. Thepopulation in the industrial districts soared as people thronged into look for employment. The conditions of living were not probablefor human habitation. Various scholars describe the condition of thecities and observe the environmental impacts brought about byindustrialization.

Tocqueville describes the environmental condition of Manchesterduring the industrialization era. According to his text, the houseswere so close to each other such that waste per unit area became toomuch to be managed. He describes the workers quarters as full ofstagnant pools and heap of dung (Lawrence &amp Mayer, K. (1968). Thestreams were filled with industry waste since most of them directedtheir muck into the river. The houses cropped on areas that should beleft as reserves for example along the river banks.

Also, the number of industries soared, but they had an environmentalimpact on the dwelling quarters. The high industries blocked thelight and aeration and made it impossible for sunlight to reach mostof the houses. The emissions from the industry polluted theenvironment. Tocqueville also describes the big crowds that throngedthe city every day (Lawrence &amp Mayer, K. (1968). According tohim, the past tendency of people walking leisurely along the streetswas long gone. During the industrial period, people were always in ahurry to get to their occupations.

Engels also made a close observation of the environmental impact onthe city of Manchester by giving details on the various streets. Hestarts by detailing the social stratification that determines thenumber and quality of buildings in the different habitats (Engels,1892). The old town was characterized by poor houses that werecrumbling and dark alleys. He also describes the Todd streets ashaving a poorly planned house that had very narrow alleys andpassages. The alleys, according to Engels could not allow a couple ofpeople to pass each other.

Another important impact on the environment was the setting up ofindustries even in reserve areas. There were tanneries along theriver, and they directed all their waste into the river. Thepopulation in a single district had gone up to more than 25,000, andthis led to overpopulation (Engels, 1892).

Tocqueville and Engels provide various explanations for the causes ofthe impacts on the environment. Overpopulation was a major cause ofthe haphazard housing as people thronged into the city to look foremployment. Secondly, the failure to separate the industrial areasfrom the residential areas led to people living in industrial wastepolluted areas. Tocqueville identifies it as a major cause of theindustries shadowing the residential areas. Engels considersManchester as hell on earth due to the poor planning that resulted indisharmony in the town.

In the letter written by Faraday on the condition of river Thames isquite influential in its form and credibility of the author. Faradaywas one of the scientists in the Victorian age and his position andeducation on environmental matters makes the condition of RiverThames appear real. It is possible that several people, and raisedconcerns on the effluent being directed into the river. However, whenthe words come from an expert, they make the situation appear wantingand urgent.

The form of the document in the form of a letter is more than anarticle written by opinion. The way Faraday present informationcaptures the attention of the reader because he does not rely on thefindings of other people, which might be criticized anyway. He uses avery simple demonstration that does not require concrete analyzes tounderstand that the river is heavily polluted. Faraday put somewhite cards into the water. He describes that the submerged half ofthe cards could not be visible underwater even before the whole cardwent under water (Faraday, 1855). It was a result theeffluent-concentrated water. The ending of the letter must also bevery impactive to the audience. Faraday indicates that filature toinstate corrective measures may lead to future regrets.

Florence Nightingale`s article is interesting because it looks atenvironmental degradation from a rural perspective. The people fromthe village were the same people moving to the cities to look foremployment. Looking at it from her perspective, environmentaldegradation seems to have emanated from the village. She highlightsthe water supply in the rural areas whereby the wells were shallowand dug near the privy pits (Seymer, 1954). It may explain why thesepeoples could not hesitate to drain their waste in the rivers in thecity like in the Todd Street. The storage of excrement in thevillages as describe by Nightingale was so disgusting that it couldnot be put down in the article. The privy pits dug in the homes weresupposed to be emptied three times a year. However, they overflowedand the excrement found its way out of the pits. Considering that thepeople living in these conditions were the same who went into thecity, they transferred the behavior in their new conditions (Seymer,1954). As Engels describes Todd Street, there were urine poolseverywhere. The poor privy-waste management was transferred to theconcentrated mushrooming quarters.

The health missioners as described by Nightingale offered educationon health and maintaining a clean environment. It shows that therewas no definite authority to enforce environmental safety in thehomes. Although there was a rule requiring people to have sufficientgardens for proper disposal of their privies, it was not followed bymany people. The lack of restrictive practices many have made peopledevelop a reckless behavior, and it may explain why they builttanneries along rivers and directed the waste into them. Therefore,environmental degradation, according to the article seems to havestarted from the village.

The impact of industrialization was also felt in the contemporaryworld. William Wardsworth, a renowned poet, expresses his feeling onthe whole process that the country underwent. From his poem, TheExcursion, one note that the dissatisfaction that people had theeffect of industrialization on the environment was not only a domainof environmental experts but also for people in the contemporaryworld. Even a contemporary individual could observe the speed atwhich the changes took place. Wardsworth notes that “Where, not ahabitation stood before,

Abodes of men irregularly massed” (Line 6&amp7). It was happeningso fast with each available space in the town being occupied byindustries and residential areas. He also notes that “O’er, whichthe smoke of unremitting fires, Hangs permanent, and plentiful aswreaths” (Line 11&amp12). It creates a picture whereby thepollution was too high to be seen with the naked eye. Even acontemporary man could note the changes that took place in theenvironment. A contemporary man could also note the increased numberof ships docking at the country’s docks coming for wares. Theeconomy of the country would grow due to the increased exports.However, Wardsworth denominates that nature was not receivingjustice. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that the contemporary mindwould first look at the destruction taking place in theirenvironment. He notes that, I grieve, when on the darker side, Ofthis great change I look and there behold, Such outrage done tonature as compels” (Line 21, 22 &amp23).

Hygiene plays an important role in the role of the Victorian. Thepopulation residing in Victoria lived in populated areas with poorsanitation. There was high disease prevalence mostly due to watershortage and unsafe water for consumption. As indicated by Chadwick,the number of deaths resulting from poor hygiene including poorventilation and filth were more than those caused byinjuriesChadwick, E. (1842). Hygiene, therefore, was an importantfactor to consider in their dwellings. The burden left to widows andorphans was directly attributable to poor hygiene. Although there wasincreased demand for labor supply and the prospects for a continuedincrease, the number of deaths resulting from hygiene were far toohigh to be compensated by the number of the new births (Chadwick,1842). Therefore, the Victorians could not ignore the issue ofhygiene. It could be directly related industrialization, as Chadwicknotes, the people were living in poorly ventilated houses with poorfilth management. These were the effect of overpopulation broughtabout by sprouting of poorly constructed houses in the work quarters.The high walled industries blocked the houses from sunlight andaeration. The shortage of water was due to the rapid overpopulationin the city as people thronged in to look for employment. Theavailable clean water could not serve all the residents.


Chadwick, E.(1842). Report from the Poor Law Commissioners on an Inquiry intothe Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain.London, 369-372.

Engels, F.(1892). The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844.London: Swan Sonnenschein &amp Co. 45, 48-53.

Faraday, M.(1855, July 7). Observations on the filth of the Thames, contained ina letter to the London Times, by Michael Faraday . TheLondon Times.

Lawrence,G. &ampK. P. Mayer, K. (1968). Alexisde Tocqueville: Journeys to England and Ireland.New York, N.Y.: Anchor Books / Doubleday, 93-96.

Seymer, R.(1954). Selected Writings of Florence Nightingale. New York,NY: The Macmillan Co. 382&shy87.

Wordsworth, W.(1814). “The Excursion.” Rydal Mount: Westmoreland.