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Environmentally Sustainable Development in the Developed World

History of development

The Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in the late 18th century, also introduced the large-scale use of coal as an energy source. Coal-burning is a source of air pollution and acid rain and a cause of respiratory disease. New materials and processes, many of them involving chemicals and toxic materials, enabled more goods to be produced, but at the same time increased environmental pollution.

As mass production techniques expanded, the crafts and trades practised in small towns declined and there were huge shifts of the population into industrial centres. These centres grew into large cities with overcrowded and poor-quality housing developments. More health and environmental problems were created from inadequate water supply and sanitation in these cities. As the cities expanded, more rural land was taken up and forests, wetlands and wildlife were destroyed. Additional roads and railways were developed to link these cities with ports, other industrial centres and suburban developments. This led to further environmental damage.

The production of goods was accelerated in the 19th century by the development of faster means of transport and communications and it has been growing ever since. The acquisition of more supply sources of raw materials also occurred about this time. The colonisation process caused environmental damage, social and cultural disruption to much of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

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