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Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth

Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth

Preface. Some of the points I found most alarming or interesting:

  • After water, concrete is the most widely used substance on Earth. 
  • Concrete is a thirsty behemoth, sucking up almost a 10th of the world’s industrial water use. This often strains supplies for drinking and irrigation
  • If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest CO2 emitter, accounting for 4 to 8% of the world’s CO2
  • Puts roofs over the heads of billions, fortifies defenses against natural disasters, and the structure for healthcare, education, transport, energy and industry. When combined with steel, it is the material that ensures our dams don’t burst, our tower blocks don’t fall, our roads don’t buckle and our electricity grid remains connected.
  • But they also entomb vast tracts of fertile soil, constipate rivers, & choke habitats
  • we may have already passed the point where concrete outweighs the combined carbon mass of every tree, bush and shrub on the planet. 
  • All the plastic produced over the past 60 years amounts to 8bn tonnes. The concrete industry pumps out more than that every two years.
  • The amount of concrete laid per square meter in Japan is 30 times the amount in America (the same as California using as much concrete as the entire U.S.)
  • Many engineers argue that there is no viable alternative. Steel, asphalt and plasterboard are more energy intensive than concrete. The world’s forests are already being depleted at an alarming rate

Watts, J. 2019-2-25. Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth. The Guardian.

After water, concrete is the most widely used substance on the planet. But its benefits mask enormous dangers to the planet, to human health – and to culture itself

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