Steam Engine: 3 Reasons Why It Changed The World

Invention Date1776
InventorJames Watt
Impact LevelHigh
Further ReadingHeron(Hero) of Alexandria: The 3 Inventions That Made Him Famous

The world’s first commercial large scale steam engine was developed by English inventor James Watt in 1776. This revolutionary machine forever changed the world through 3 reasons.

Today there are 3 reasons why the Steam Engine forever changed the world. First, the steam engine made it possible to move large scale bodies of water easily allowing cities to expand to massive sizes. Second, the steam engine pushed society out of the Malthusian trap. Third, the steam engine jump started the industrial revolution.

Few inventions in the world are as influential as the steam engine. Within one century of its creation the entire world was changed and cities began to grow on a massive scale.

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Without further ado, here are the 3 reasons the Steam Engine Changed The World

The Steam Engine Made It Possible To Move Large Bodies Of Water Easily

One of the main reasons that the steam engine forever changed the world was by building large scale pumps to move large bodies of water.

The importance of the ability to move large bodies of water with ease cant be understated. From 1700 to 1800 Britain alone saw hundreds of steam engines being installed across the Empire.

There are a couple ways in which the steam engine allowed for huge cities to be built. The first way was moving large bodies of clean water into cities which before the steam engine had to transport their water over long distances. Unless the city had a Roman aqueduct it was limited in its population size by the availability of water.

Another way that the steam engine’s ability to move large bodies of water forever changed the world can be seen in the creation of steamships. Once the steam engine started to be adapted to naval vessels the age of sail was over. Now steam ships could cross the Atlantic in just under 15 days where sail ships took over 2 months. Further, these steamships would allow western explorers to travel into the interior of Africa during the 19th century.

Finally, the most important reason why the steam engine’s ability to move water changed the world was because now humans could dig deeper mines to extract coal and other minerals. This drastically influenced the development of the industrial revolution.

As a result, one of the main reasons that the steam engine forever changed the world was by giving people the ability to easily move large bodies of water.

The Steam Engine Pushed Society Out Of The Malthusian Trap

Another one of the main reasons that the steam engine forever changed the world was by pushing the world out of the Malthusian trap.

The Malthusian trap was named after the economic model of the medieval era. Within this model farmers would produce food which would in turn help to build a larger population which in turn needed to have more farmers to produce more food.

However there was one catch. Eventually all available farming land in an area would be maxed out. The problem is that as an area’s population grew so did its need for larger areas of land surrounding a city center. Eventually the city would grow so big that food would spoil as it traveled from the edge of the farmland to the market in the city.

Eventually the human population of a city would max out. There would be no more land and as such no more excess food to feed a population with. Any attempt to transport food from far away would result in food spoiling as it took too long.

However, the steam engine forever changed the world by removing the Malthusian trap from society. The rise of the steam engine gave rise to locomotive trains powered by coal.

Now cities could grow to massive sizes as food could be brought in from across the world on large train cars powered by steam engines. What was previously farmland surrounding a city was now able to turn into factories and surplus housing.

Simply put, the steam engine forever changed the world by allowing the human population to massively increase far past its natural limits set by the Malthusian trap.

The Steam Engine Jumpstarted The Industrial Revolution By Giving Mankind Capacity to Generate Substantial Amounts of Energy

Another main reason that the Steam Engine forever changed the world was because it gave mankind the capacity to produce massive amounts of energy.

Before the steam engine the most powerful engine in the world was either a water wheel, basic windmill, a team of animals, or a wood burning stove. As a result machinery was limited to basic hand tools and farming equipment.

However, once the steam engine was invented it became possible to generate extreme amounts of energy that far surpassed the capacity of previous methods. For the first time in human history wood was replaced as the primary energy source by coal.

With the aid of coal steam powered engines started to generate massive amounts of energy in the early 19th century. With this excess energy production inventors and capitalists began to develop machinery that could do the work of several men.

This was the start of the industrial revolution. Within one century from the steam engine’s creation factories began to pop up across the western world powered by steam power.

As a result one of the main reasons that the steam engine changed the world was by giving mankind the ability to produce substantial amounts of energy.

Conclusion

There you have it; an entire article that goes over the 3 reasons why the steam engine changed the world forever.

Few inventions have changed the world as much as the steam engine has. There have been several history books that go over the impact of the steam engine upon society. A great example of this would be Coal, Steam, and Ships by Crosbie Smith, its a pretty good read.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the web. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.

Further, you can check out some of the other articles below. 

Sincerly,

Nick