Iron and the increased demand for wood

Scaling up of iron production in Great Britain, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, led to a dramatic increase in the demand for wood. The creation of steel takes its toll on forests, with the requirement of charcoal, a residue of wood, to smelt iron and carbon.

Charcoal production, leading to demand for wood, has since then led to widespread deforestation with thousands of square kilometers of forests cut annually.

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Iron: the fourth most abundant element on earth

Iron is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and is found as an ore called Magnetite. Iron is crucial for creating steel, which is required for countries which are undergoing industrialization.

While we humans mine a lot of sophisticated metals like Aluminum and Titanium, Iron forms the skeleton of modern infrastructure.

Iron has been collected, mined and processed into its metallic form since 1200 BCE. Large scale production only started in 1750, at the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Steel, an alloy of Iron and Carbon is known for its purity and strength, and was patented by British inventor Sir Henry Bessemer in 1857. Steel helped humanity make stronger and larger tools, paving the way for industrialized progress.

  • As the tools to produce steel got refined, they were made more energy efficient and produced higher-quality steel.
  • The production of finished iron in 2018 is 1.8 million metric tonnes, as compared to 800,000 metric tonnes in the 18th century. China accounts for one of the leading producers of steel.
  • The modern civilization is highly dependent on iron exploration and we continue to find newer ways to manufacture the metal with a minimum carbon footprint.

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Climate Change

We live in a fossil fuel society. But while they proved to be extremely valuable, the catastrophic climate change they are creating now threatens to derail that society. Two centuries ago we reached the limits of what agriculture could do, now global warming is imposing a limit on what fossil fuels can safely do. 

It has created the greatest challenge human society has ever faced - moving back to relying on the daily influx of energy from the Sun to meet the huge energy needs of eight billion people and counting.

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  • Paris began as a small settlement on the Seine river banks. Paris gets its name from the Parisii, an Iron Age Celtic tribe, who fortified the area around 225BCE.
  • In 52 BCE, the Romans conquered the site and named it March of the Parisii.
  • By the 5th century CE, the Franks took control over Paris and made it their capital.
  • In 843 CE, the kingdom of Francia split. East Francia became the predecessor state to Germany while West Francia became the early version of the Kingdom of France.

In 1459, Gutenberg opened a small printing shop in Bamberg (Bavaria), where he continued printing the Bible.

Six years later, Prince Archbishop of Mainz recognized Gutenberg's accomplishments and named him a gentleman of the court - meaning he could live on the court's large annual stipend.

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