Industrial Revolution and Climate Change

By Cindy Karel and Christine Pritchard-Laska

Day One


  1. Students will read aloud "Industrial Revolution", and discuss the consequences of the revolution. 
  2. Students will write a short essay about the troubles that factories and population brought to early towns and cities.  This discussion can involve authors who wrote about these topics.  Our students will have read Great Expectations  in the year prior to this unit, so our discussion will involve Charles Dickens. 

Day Two

Social Studies:  

  1. Teacher will ask if students have anything manufactured by hand in their possession. Then discuss how much we have come to rely on factories. 
  2. Do grandparents/parents farm? Compare the difference in lifestyle urban vs. rural. 
  3. Students will break into groups of four, with only poster board and a pencil. 
  4. Teacher will give the following directions:  "Today we are going to begin the study of industrial revolution and the consequences arising from that movement. It is required that you listen well because nothing will be repeated. You will be evaluated on the final picture you draw as well as a final quiz which will test your memory and listening skills. The key is to pay attention."  
  5. Urban Game : Teacher will read the story through round three. 


Read and discuss the following articles: 

  • "Are Human Activities Contributing to Climate Change"
  • What Human Activities  Contribute to Climate Change"
  • How Do We Know that the Atmospheric Build-Up of Greenhouse Gases is Due to Human Activity?"
  • What Climate Changes Are Projected?"
  • "How Reliable Are Prediction of Future Climate?"



Students will read "Above Pate Valley" by Gary Snyder and relate the destruction evident during the industrial revolution to the changes in the environment within the poem.  Discussion will also include our responsibility to the planet and the natural world around us. 

 Social Studies:

1. Teacher continues to read the passages, stressing the following: 
        *Population explosion and effects 
        *Inventions are created to ease and complicate people's lives 
        *Alcoholism and poverty increase during this time as well as stress 
2. Urban Game : Teacher will read to round 11 


Exhaust Collection Lab



Provide an introduction of John Muir as and environmentalist and author.  Read together John Muir's biographical information.

Discussion:  Do you suppose that Muir's temporary blindness had an effect on his life?  If so, how?   What benefits have we gained from Muir's dedication to the environment? 

If John Muir were alive today, what might he be writing about? 

  1. Create a list of topics from student suggestion of things John Muir might write about if he were alive today. 
  2. Divide students into small groups. Group members are to create a public service announcement using the "voice" of John Muir. (This should "spring-board" from class discussion.)  The message should positively sell its idea to its audience.  The script should be well written and should express student ideas in clear language.  The students should use effective attention-getting techniques in the writing  of their public service announcements.

Social Studies:

1. Teacher will continue to read the Industrial story, focusing on the following: 
                 *Significance of steam power 
                 *Importance of coal and its usage 
                 *Child labor problems and the black lung disease 
                 *Development of the railroad 
                 *Other social ills. 
2. Teacher will have sped up the pace as to make it more difficult for students to 
     pay attention. By this point, the groups should have delegated responsibility 
     amongst group members. Teacher should not give this info away. 


Students will process results from Exhaust Collection Lab. 

Homework: Students will complete Fuel Timeline Activity



Small groups will present public service announcements.  Discussion. 

Read together excerpted writings of John Muir being sure to reinforce Muir's use of literary devices:  figurative language, metaphor, simile, personification, symbol, musical devices, imagery, etc. 

Ask students to think about a place, time, or aspect of nature that is or has been meaningful to them.  Students will do a brief "pre-write"….taking notes of their chosen aspect of nature….sights, sounds, smells, personal feelings, etc. 

Students will come to class on Day Six with a passage written about their selection.  This does not need to be poetry.  In fact , it should reflect the "passage" writings of John Muir.  These will be shared with the class.

Social Studies:

Teacher will continue to read the story, focusing on the following:

  • Purpose of lumber, smelteries, coal mine
  • Gas Lighting development
  • Effect of unemployment (socially)
  • Effect of pollution and health hazards


Discuss answers from Fuel Timeline Activity



Read together the following passage by John Muir: 

The cleanness of the ground suggests Nature taking pains like a housewife, the rock pavements seem as if carefully swept and dusted and polished every day.  No wonder one feels a magic exhilaration when these pavements are touched, when the manifold currents of life that flow through the pores of the rock are considered, that keep every crystal particle in rhythmic motion dancing. 

Discussion of this passage provides a lead-in to the poem "She Sweeps With Many-Colored Brooms" by Emily Dickenson.  Study of this poem could include such literary devices as figurative language, personification, and extended metaphor.  Questions for comparison of the two works could include:  How is personification effectively used by each author?  Which metaphors in each are based on the ordinary details of life as a homemaker?  What is each writers' attitude toward the subject matter? 

Social Studies:

  1. Wrap up the poster board with a short quiz
  2. Get into the reason for National Park Development and conservation, 
    including John Muir.
  3. Importance of the Sierra Club, and other environmental activists.


Students will view the video from the Global Environmental Summit 


  1. When we began the activity, what environment did most people live in?
  2. Describe typical living quarters in the beginning of the story.
  3. What was life expectancy?
  4. Where did the middle class live?
  5. What is primogeniture?
  6. What were the initial two sources of fuel?
  7. what led to population explosion in England?
  8. Name a new technique farmers used to get more crops out of the field.
  9. What was the name of the act that allowed common land to be purchased from the government?
  10. What do we call tenements today?
  11. Who invented the steam engine?
  12. What method was used to light street lamps?
  13. Who contracted black lung disease?
  14. Who contracted white lung disease?



DIRECTIONS: For this game, students may use one piece of posterboard and a pencil. They should be in groups of 3-4 students, and concentrate on listening to the story as the teacher reads it. The evaluation will be based upon the content of the poster and a quiz over the reading material contained in the story. Teachers: do not repeat any portion of the story as emphasis is placed on teamwork and listening skills. 

The year is 1700 and the nation is England. The scene begins in a rural village. 

(Draw a river across your paper connecting east to west. The river should be about an inch wide. Draw a wooden bridge across the river, 4 roads originating from each direction, 10 houses, a church, a cemetery, a store, a pub, a coal mine, and a lot of trees all over the posterboard.) 

Life here in village England is similar to other villages across Europe in the 18th century. Change traditionally comes very slowly. People generally moved at a much slower pace and had access to very little information outside their village. 3 out of 4 people were rural and lived in villages much like the one you will be constructing. Each village housed between 200 and 400 people. The tallest structure in the village was the church. The religion of England was Anglican. 

Home life and work life were closely integrated as most work was done in nearby fields or in the home's adjoining workshop. The family was both an economic and a social unit. Every member worked from sun-up to sun-down. Even small children had chores. The homes of villagers were small with inadequate light and ventilation. All members of the family slept in the same room and sometimes even shared living quarters with livestock. Sons worked with fathers, daughters with mothers. Life expectancy was slightly over 40 years of age. Most people married in their teens and had babies before they were 20. It was common for women to die in childbirth so the average marriage lasted about 15 years. Step-parents were very common. One baby out of three died before their first birthday, only half of them made it to 21. 
England was divided into social classes based primarily upon wealth. Most were poor farmers. A few were middle class, and they lived for the most part in London. A small few were aristocrats and usually owned large tracts of land in the English countryside. For both peasant and aristocrat, the soil was key to the economy. Land was the source of wealth, livelihood, and well-being. Having enough land to produce adequate food, or to produce enough to sell, or even rent was the key to survival. 

Thus, traditions concerning land guided daily living. These traditions were designed to ensure the stability and welfare of the greater community. Hence marriages and inheritance were geared toward maintaining family property in tact. Marriages were always arranged by parents to maintain or better the economic status of the family. Not all could get married, however. A man had to own land on which to support a family before he could marry. It was not uncommon then, for  men to wait until their 30's when they inherited land from their family, to wed. If a woman did not bring land into the marriage she had to have some sort of dowry. Daughters who inherited property from their parents had to pass it on to their husbands as women could not own land. All land was given to the eldest son in a process called primogeniture. The younger sons typically received cash payments, or wait for their older brothers to die. 

The main occupation of England was farming . Private and Public lands were not separated by fences as they are today. Every village had a public area called THE COMMONS. This was land in which was available for anyone for pattering, hunting, the gathering of firewood, growing of crops, etc.…So, poor farmers who did not own their land, or rent, could eke out a marginal living by depending on the commons. Unlike France, most English peasants or farmers did own their own land, however small.

Villages were connected by a system of dirt roads that became almost impassable during the wet season. As a result, transportation was often slow and trade beyond your village was not easy. Most English farmers never visited any place further than 25 miles from their birthplace, ever. People made their own food, clothes, furniture, tools and homes. A few items which could not be produced, could be obtained from wandering peddlers who also brought with them news. 

Finally, for fuel, there were two sources: firewood and coal. Nearly every English village had a coal mining operation. These mines employed a small number of village dwellers, especially in the winter. Coal pits from which coal was extracted belonged to the owner of the property where the coal mine was situated. 

Over the next 100 years, a revolution as significant as the Neolithic Revolution will completely change life in your little village. Some historians believe this revolution is the most fundamental in human history. 
We will experience some of the changes over the next 4-5 days. 

It is now 1745. England's geography is unique in that no section of the country is more than 90 miles from the sea, and there are many navigable rivers that crisscross the countryside. An enterprising young capitalist  group (you guys) decides to invest money in the construction of a canal. The profits are astounding! This new revolution in transportation reduced the prices of raw materials and reduced the costs of transportation dramatically. Coal could now be transported from the mines to the towns for half the price of horse- wagon transportation. Since you invested your money, thereby making a tidy profit, build yourself 1 nice home anywhere on the map you would like it to be. Don't forget to construct the canal. It must run parallel to the river. 

It is now 1750. For a variety of reasons (soap, diet, sanitation, etc.…) there is a population explosion in England, and your little village. The cursed bubonic plague which for centuries wiped out your village has been virtually eliminated due to the disposal of sewage in the canal and in the ocean.  Add 7 houses. 

It is 1760. The people of your village need a bit more food and goods to meet the needs of the new inhabitants. Coincidentally, a number of other noteworthy events occur around 1760. First, a number of new mechanical inventions for farms are developed. One is called the seed drill and another is the horse-drawn cultivator. Also, farmers begin to experiment with new, more productive farming practices, like crop rotation, new fertilizers, and new livestock breeding techniques. Consequently, farm production is significantly increased. But, there is one problem. Most farmers own small tracts of land, and it's impossible to buy more land from anyone. At the same time, pressure is placed on Parliament by large small landowning farmers to make more land available. Where would the land come from? The commons of course!!! A series of laws called the Enclosure Acts, is passed by Parliament. This means that landowners can buy pieces of common land from the government. Take away half of your commons and add 1 more nice house. 

It is now 1773. A man named Richard Arkwright invents a new machine that can spin and weave cloth a hundred times faster than could be done by hand in a farm cottage (the most common was of producing cloth up to this time, the ‘putting out' system). He calls his new machine the Water Frame because its source of power was water. Since the water frame was large, a special place was needed and, the first factory for prodding cotton cloth was built. Add one factory. Remember the cotton factory must be placed on the river bank. Canal water is not swift enough to generate the power to more parts of the water frame. 

It is now 1774, workers are needed to work in this new factory. Since many people (women) cannot compete with the spinning and weaving of cloth made in the factory and there are large numbers of poor families who have lost their livelihood due to the Enclosure Acts, we do have an available supply of workers. People move to your village to find work. Add 5 houses, 1 church, I pub, and 1 store. You may draw additional roads and 1 bridge. 

The profits from the first textile factory are enormous. It should be no surprise that Richard Arkwright is referred to with two titles, the first millionaire and the father of the modern factory. New factories are built in your community Add 5 new factories. The early owners of these factories called themselves capitalists because they had the capital or money to purchase the raw material, the building, the water frame, and pay their workers a fixed wage and make a profit. 

It is 1780. Unemployed workers from surrounding areas flood into your community looking for work. Although wages are low, they look attractive to starving families. Housing is in great demand and for the first times, a new kind of housing is constructed called tenements. Here, dozens of families reside under one rook. Add 5 tenements. 

It is now 1781. More workers need to live, eat, shop, drink, and worship. We need the socials support services to go along with this increased demand.  Add 1 store,  1 pub, and 1 church.  Also add 1 school for boys. Boys were the only ones to be formally educated at this time, and then only the very wealthy attended school. Since workers work six days a week, the only day of rest was Sunday. Be certain to make the churches convenient for their aching  feet. 

Now, it's 1782. Workers work long, hard hours in the factories. The average work day begins at 6:00am and ends at 9:00 pm. There is only a 30 minute break for lunch. After work, exhausted, stressed out, workers stop at their favorite pub for refreshment and relaxation. Alcohol begins to be consumed in record amounts. Add two more pubs.

The year is now 1783. Workers are barely eking out a marginal existence. There is never enough money to send the kids to school. Still there are a few families whose lifestyle is comfortable if not luxurious. These are the large landowning farmers and factory owners. Add two large, special, luxury homes.   Handsome manor house are built and some are lavishly filled with expensive art. These new rich are not part of the aristocratic class of England, but they can now enjoy some refinements of the rich: food, servants, furniture, education, clothing, carriages, etc.. 

We move now to 1785. A man named James Watt invents a new machine called the steam engine. It comes to replace the water frame. First, it is far more efficient. Second, it allows factories to be built away from the river. This source of power is more mobile. Capitalists quickly replace their water frames with steam powered weaving and spinning machines.  The main business in England is still textile manufacturing. Add 10 more factories. Also add a huge monster house. 

The year is 1800. A man named Henry Court has just invented the pudding process. This process makes it possible for coal, which is,  fortunately, in abundant supply in England, to be used as the primary fuel in the new iron industry. Consequently, your town is thrust into the "New Age of Heavy Industry". Larger factory districts appear which manufacture iron at low prices and that can easily be transported by your canal. Add 1 new coal mine and a new iron bridge to replace the old wooden bridge. 

In 1815 we see the coal industry flourish. Coal miners are busy digging coal from the ground. There is a great demand for coal now: home-heating, fuel for steam engine, for the production of iron. Although in the 1700's coal miners were adults who worked in the winter to supplement their farm wages, now, the typical workers are children between the ages of 8 and 14. The work is dangerous and terribly unhealthy. Children become victims of black lung, explosions and accidents. Their growth is stunted as they spend most of their 14 hour day stooped over. They are malnourished and unable to exercise or eat properly. Add a cemetery, complete with headstones 

The year is now 1820. The existing canals and dirt roads cannot accommodate the heavy industrial traffic. New experiments with transportation using the power of the steam engine are tried. The most successful appears to be a steam-engine that pulls a series of  wagons or cars on an iron track. The first railroad is tested and proves to be very effective Add 1 railroad line connecting your factory district to the outer coal mining region 

Now it is 1827. The new revolution in transportation draws thousands of people to your community. Soon there becomes a surplus of workers. Capitalists who wish to ensure their profits decide to hire women and children over men because they can perform the same factory labor at ½ to ¼ price. More and more children leave their homes to work in factories, leading many men to turn to lives of crime and corruption, and drinking at the pub. For the first time in England's history, alcoholism appears in epidemic proportions. Family life that existed for hundreds of years in England is disrupted. Family members seldom eat together or spend time with each other.  Add 1 jail and 2 pubs. 

The years pass. It is now 1837. Using steam engines and iron, and soon steel, British manufacturers introduce power driven machinery in many industries. The production of shoes, clothing, ammunition, and furniture become mechanized, as did paper and print making. People used machinery to cut and finish lumber, to process foods, and make other machines. Some new inventions and innovations had important BI-products that turned into separate industries. For example, iron smelters used COKE, a by-product of coal, to improve it's smelting process. Then someone discovered that the gases that coal released during the coke burning process could be burned to give off light. During the 1830's, London and other large towns became the first to pipe in gas to burn street lights. Soon all around England, hundreds of towns used gas to light street lights and homes. Draw street lights, lining your business community streets. 

We move on to 1838. The working conditions in the factories continue to worsen. The two predominant factories are textile and iron. Working conditions in both of these areas were appalling. Many workers contracted the deadly factory fever or white lung disease. It was probably a variety of lung ailments: cancer, tuberculosis, emphesema, etc.… Other workers were injured on the job in factory accidents. There were no protective railing around huge moving machines. Children, weakened from lack of sleep and food, often stumbled into machinery and were ripped to shreds.  Women with long hair that came undone, often were caught in machinery. Regardless, if you were unable to work, you were fired. There was no health insurance. There was always a daily line of unemployed workers waiting to fill vacant jobs. Add two hospitals, and 1 cemetery 

In 1840, the need for quicker and cheaper transportation increases. Coal, iron, finished products, raw materials must be transported from one area of England to the other. In Ireland in the late 1830's a potato famine drove hundreds of thousands of  Irish to England. Now, there were very inexpensive laborers available to build more railroad lines. Add one more railroad line 

By 1842, several million acres of good British land has been enclosed and sold to private people to develop their large estates. Despite the misery this creates for England's ladles poor,the advantages to the rich are obvious. These farmers purchase the newest power-driven equipment and can easily feed the working class of England. The small landowning farmer is crushed by the enclosed commons. They cannot afford the machinery, and therefore cannot compete and grow too profitably. Thousands of  these folks leave their villages ( where their ancestors had lived for thousands of years) and move to towns and cities looking for work to feed their families. Some refused to leave, but took jobs working for large landowning farmers. By the thousands, they move to the bleak, uninviting towns of the north in the new cotton mills.  Add 20 houses, 5 tenements, 2 stores, 1 church, 5 factories, 1 pub, and another huge, nice house. 

It is 1845, There are some advantages for many of the urban dwellers. City life is quite different from country life. For the small, but growing middle class, a new cultural life is available. Museums, theaters, operas, restaurants, plays, concerts are made available. Before, only the wealthy, elite would attend these events. Add I museum, 1 university, 2 theaters, 2 private schools. 

In 1850, there are no pollution limits or controls on factories and businesses. Windows, walls even trees are covered with layers of soot and coke. The river that once flowed through the quiet village for hundreds of years is now unfit for drinking, bathing or laundry. A new disease begins to take lives of people. Malignant tumors in people begin to grown in large numbers. Black lung is on the rise. The average life expectancy for the poor is now 30 years of age. Your city is overcrowded and shrouded in factory smoke. 
The noise, the loss of privacy, loss of family unit, shatters the peace of the old ways. Suicide rates double, then triple. Add 3 more cemeteries, 1 jail, 3 more hospitals all to accommodate the victims of urban life…. 

It would be at this point that I would insert and information on the environmental movement if you haven't yet, talk about national parks and forest development. Review the sweatshops, and terrible conditions for young people….  

Above Pate Valley 

by Gary Snyder

We finished  clearing the last 
Section of trail by noon. 
High on the ridge-side 
Two thousand feet above the creek- 
Reached the pass, went on 
Beyond the white pine groves, 
Granite shoulder, to a small 
Green meadow watered by the snow, 
Edged with Aspen - sun 
Straight high and blazing 
But the air was cool. 
Ate a cold fried trout in the  
Trembling shadows.  I spied 
A glitter, and found a flake 
Black volcanic glass - obsidian - 
By a flower.  Hands and knees 
Pushing the Bear grass, thousands 
Of arrowhead leavings over a  
Hundred yards.  Not one good 
Head, just razor flakes 
On a hill snowed all but summer, 
A land of fat summer deer, 
They came to camp.  On their 
Own trails.  I followed my own 
Trail here. Picked up the cold-drill, 
Pick , singlejack, and sack 
Of dynamite. 
Ten thousand years.

John Muir Biographical Information

John Muir was born on April 21, 1838 in Dunbar, Scotland.  His family emigrated to the United States in 1849, finally settling in Wisconsin. 

John's father was a harsh man who believed in strict discipline for his children.  The family worked from dusk 'til dawn.  During the few moments of spare time he could find, John and his brother would wander throughout the fields and woods of Wisconsin.  John became a great observer of nature and fell in love with the natural world. 

In 1860, Muir entered the University of Wisconsin.  He did well in school, but left after three years to travel the Northern United States and Canada.  He survived by doing odd jobs during his travels. 

During an odd job at a carriage parts shop in Indianapolis, Muir suffered a blinding eye injury that would change his life.  He regained his sight one month later and decided to use his "eyesight" to enjoy the fields of nature. He traveled to many places, Cuba, Panama, much of the United States, and spent a great deal of time in the Sierra Nevada mountains and Yosemite. 

In 1874, Muir began his career as a writer by publishing a series of articles called "Studies in the Sierra". 

In 1880, John Muir married Louie Wanda Strentzel.  They spent the next ten years raising their two daughters and working for John's father-in-law.    John continued to travel the world, but always seemed to find himself back in the Sierra Nevada. 

John Muir has published over 300 articles and 10 books that recounted his travels.  His writing is often said to have a "spiritual quality" about it.  Muir then began to use his articles to create an awareness of the destruction of natural pasture and forests by sheep and cattle.  Due in large part to the writings of John Muir, Yosemite National Park was created by an act of Congress in 1890.  He was also involved in the creation of Sequoia, Mount Raineier, Petrified Forest, and Grand Canyon national parks. 

In 1892,  The Sierra Club was founded to, in Muir's words, "do something for wildness and make the mountains glad."  Muir was the president of The Sierra Club until his death in 1914.

Writings of John Muir

An excerpt from a postcard which Muir sent to his daughter from his visit to Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina......

Yesterday we rode 38 miles through a very beautiful forest of many kinds of trees, most of them with colored leaves, and climbed a mountain called Grandfather covered with very fine flowers, shrubs, and trees.  The drive from Roan Mountain to Lenoir, 75 miles, is I think the finest in America of its kind. 

Another account of the visit to Grandfather Mountain comes from a 1915 article by Melville Anderson.  It is titled "The Conversation of John Muir"..   Muir provides this recollection........... 

I couldn't hold in, and began to jump about and sing and glory in it all.  Then I happened to look around and catch sight of Sargent, standing there as cool as a rock, with a half-amused look on lhis face at me, but never saying a word. 

"Why don't you let yourself out at a sight like that?", I asked. 

"I don't wear my heart on my sleeve," he retorted. 

"Who cares where you wear your little heart, mon,"  I cried.  "There you stand in the face of all Heaven come to earth, like a critic of the universe, as if to say, 'Come, Nature, bring on the best you have.  I'm from Boston!'" 

Other writings from John Muir................... 

Mountains holy as Sinai.  No mountains I know of are so alluring. None so hospitable, kindly, tenderly inspiring.  It seems strange that everybody does not come at their call.  They are given, like the Gospel, without money and without price.  'Tis heaven alone that is given away.' 

The Song of God, sounding on forever.  So pure and sure and universal is the harmony, it matters not where we are, where we strike in on the wild lowland plains.  We care not to go to the mountains, and on the mountains, we care not to go to the plains.  But as soon as we are absorbed in the harmony, plain, mountain, calm, storm, lilies and sequoias, forests and meads are only different strands of many-colored Light-are one in the sunbeam! 

Nothing is more wonderful than to find smooth harmony in this lofty cragged region where at first sight all seems so rough.  From any of the high standpoints a thousand peaks, pinnacles, spires are seen thrust into the sky and so sheer and bare as to be inaccessible to wild sheep, accessible only to the eagle.  Any one by itself harsh, rugged, crumbling, yet in connection with others seems like a line of writing along the sky; it melts into melody, one leading into another, keeping rhythm in time.


by Emily Dickinson 

She sweeps with many-colored brooms, 
And leaves the shreds behind; 
Oh, housewife in the evening west, 
Come back, and dust the pond! 

You dropped a purple raveling in, 
You dropped an amber thread: 
And now you've littered all the East 
With duds of emerald! 

And still she plies her spotted brooms, 
And still the aprons fly, 
Till brooms fade softly into stars- 
And then I come away.