China has consumed more cement in three years than the United States in 100 years

    Surely you have heard about the rapid growth of the Chinese economy, but the pace of this growth is quite difficult to imagine - they are hiding behind numbers and graphs. A simple comparison that can give an idea of ​​this growth was made by historian Vaclav Smil in his book “ How the Modern World Was Built ”: from 2011 to 2013, China used as much cement as the USA used for the entire 20th century.


    That's right - three years against a hundred years. And after all, cement (used for the production of concrete and mortars) has been used for a very long time (since the times of Ancient Rome). But despite all the gigantic US projects - a huge number of skyscrapers, a network of interstate roads, dams, etc., China is still developing faster. Such growth rates are hard to imagine.

    In 2013, China consumed about 2.3 gigatonnes of cement. According to the Washington Post , such an amount of cement would be enough to turn the entire largest island of Hawaii into a parking lot. For comparison, the United States consumed a little more than 80 megatons in the same year, Russia - almost 70 megatons . What caused this gap?

    Economic growth and urbanization. Every year, 20 million Chinese move from villages to cities (this is more than the total number of people living in the suburbs of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago). Urbanization began only about 50 years ago and is growing exponentially. In 1978, less than 20% of Chinese people lived in cities, and in 2020, urban people will make up 60% of the total population.

    According to some estimates, half of all of China's current infrastructure (railways, highways, dams, airports, skyscrapers) was built after 2000. The two photos below show how one of Shanghai's districts has changed from 1987 to 2013.


    As I wrote recently , in a region called the Yangtze Delta (Golden Triangle), which is gradually turning into the largest city on the planet, a total of about 100 million people live. Now in China there are already more than 100 million cities.

    So while the rest of the world is inventing new construction technologies , China is simply building. What such an incredible growth of cities will lead to (the smog problem is acute in Chinese cities now) will not show the very distant future.

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