Climate Myth: Industrial Revolution


According to Alan Titchmarsh, during the Industrial Revolution (1750-1850 AD), there were little regulations about how much smoke and smog could be released from factories, therefore, in a lot of areas, there were a lot of carbon emissions and pollution from all of the new factories. However, in those days, there was no talk of global warming, why is the CO2 being produced now such a problem when it was clearly worse in the Industrial Revolution?

What the Science Really Says:

In truth, although the Industrial Revolution was characterized by pollution and smog, the amount of CO2 released today dwarfs the amount released 200 or 300 years ago. During the 18th century, CO2 emmissions were around 3-7 milliion tons per year. Eventually, they rose to around 54 million tons by the early 19th century. In contrast, we are currently emitting over 8000 million tons of CO2 per year. In other words, we are currently emmitting something like 160 times the CO2 that we did during the Industrial Revolution. Even if we aren't walking through clouds of toxic gas everyday, pollution and global warming is still a huge problem.


This myth ignores empirically observed phenomenon (the data about how much CO2 has been released in recent years) in favor of what "seems" to be correct. In short, it relies on common sense instead of data, enabling it to appeal to ignorance. If the reader was not aware that there is a lot more CO2 being emitted today, then they would likely be fooled, just because of how the Industrial Revolution is characterized in popular culture nowadays.


Cook, J. 9 July 2010. "Why Didn't We Have Global Warming during the Industrial Revolution?" . Skeptical Science: Examining Global Warming Skepticism.

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