Tutorial number 6
My final project is a single research essay. The internal combustion engine, invented by Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir in 1860, was a symbol of the second industrial revolution. This kind of engine works by exploding a mixture of fuel and air in an air cylinder to produce useful energy (Forrester 2006). The widespread use of the internal combustion engine in the second industrial revolution led to overcapacity caused by prosperity, conflict in international trade, and the increased demand of raw materials, which promoted the outbreak of World War I; it also worsened the consequences of the war by establishing rapid field support, and an increase in unemployment rates; it also helped triple entente to win the victory of World War I as well.
To begin with, serious overcapacity of nations due to the rapid increase of productivity, which was caused by the wide application of the internal combustion engine, became one of the potential causes of World War I. The internal combustion engine increased the productivity of agriculture due to inventions like the tractor. The efficiency of the internal combustion engine was almost over 60% which was much more than the steam engine’s 30% (Steinberg 2004). Agriculture was a crucial factor of a country’s economy; because higher agricultural productivity represented that more people could be released to work in other industries to develop economy. The GDP of Germany increased even more than 45% before World War I. (The German Economy 2013, 17). The net domestic product of Germany even reached almost 15 billion marks in 1875, more than 31 billion marks in 1900, and over 45 billion marks in 1914; based on the chart 1 (The German Economy 2013, 16). Compared the these data with the net domestic product in 1800, the total money in 1914 was almost 10 times of the number in 1800. Rapid growth in the economy, however, would form serious overcapacity (Jensen 1993, 4). To solve the problem of overcapacity, nations like Britain, Spain, and Germany had to dump their excess products to the colonies in Africa (South African History 2003). For instance, between 1905 and 1906; the crisis of Morocco really worsened the relation of Germany with France to be more fragile. (History Learning Site 2012). The competition to control colonies among nations like Germany, Britain, Spain, and France laid a foundation of World War I
Secondly, World War I was pushed, when the countries competed with each other in the global trades which were caused by the internal combustion engine. With the development of their economies, nations started to export their products abroad. “Germany had been experiencing a period of rapid industrialization since 1871” (The corner 1979), and the transportation technology of Germany caught up to Britain at an amazing speed. The breakthrough of the internal combustion engine also caused "a sharp decline in transportation costs" (Mokyr 1998, 7). By 1890, German manufacturing had become strong enough to compete with other industrialized countries, especially Britain. As ‘the empire of the sun never set’ in the first industrial revolution, Britain was the strongest country at that time. However, one hundred years later, the power of Britain was challenged by Germany, and Britain was losing the identity of the only boss of the world. Britain had already been furious with Germany since that time.
Moreover, to satisfy the dramatically increased demand for raw materials for machines like automobiles and ships, countries had to also compete for resources which created a war atmosphere in 1910s. Since the invention of the internal combustion engine, the demand of products like automobiles increased substantially. Therefore, the demand for raw materials like iron, coal, and wood also increased greatly as well. With the promotion of ambition, Germany tried to expand their colonies. In 1870, France had to import coal from other countries,…