To understand one of the main benefits of living in an industrial civilisation, just think for a moment about life expectancy.
Since America's Industrial Revolution, life expectancies have essentially doubled, from a life expectancy of 38.3 for a man born in 1850 (and 40.5 for a woman), to 75.7 for a man now, and 80.8 for a woman. [See the tables here, hat tip Stephen Hicks.]
What that means is that just one-hundred-and-fifty years ago, anyone over the age of forty in the US was considered old. And with the exception of the last one-hundred-and-fifty years, that was the way it was for most of human history -- and still is in those places that haven't yet experienced genuine industrialisation.
Thank goodness then for the Industrial Revolution, the single biggest boon for the human environment in all recorded history (and thank goodness too for the source of that blessed revolution: man's reason).
As Ayn Rand suggests, anyone over 38 years of age today should give a silent "Thank you" to the nearest, grimiest, sootiest smokestacks you can find.
PS: I wonder how many readers will see the link between this post, and the post on morality a couple of days ago? Anyone?
UPDATE: On a related theme, Yaron Brook characterises the ongoing conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil as that between the "flat world" and the "free world." Those who see the victory of the latter "powered by inexorable forces of technology and history" should think again, he says.