Relative Dematerialization

“As innovation lets us make a given product more efficiently, with fewer materials or energy, prices go down and consumption goes up.”

— Vaclav Smil

As Africa, South America, and Asia rapidly reach standards of modernity albeit a fraction to that which exists in the West, the demand for cement — the foundation (literally) for every urban area — will grow. From 1950 to 2010, 2010, cement production had gone up by a factor of 25.

Thanks to technological advances we probably won’t run out of material, but we will have to improve our rate of recycling.

Bill Gates wrote a concise review of Smil’s book Making the Modern World.

June 17, 2014 (9:54 am)

Originally published at

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