China Used More Cement In The Last Three Years Than The US Used In The Entire 20th Century

Bill Gates recently called out a staggering fact from the historian Vaclav Smil:

The significance of cement can’t be understated. A powdery substance made with calcined lime and clay, it is a binder that enables the creation of concrete (along with water and gravel or sand).

Concrete, according to Smil (whom Gates calls his favourite author), is the most important man-made material in history. It has been used in everything from the Pantheon to the Hoover Dam to China’s incredibly big Three Gorges Dam.

Where there’s cement consumption, there’s growth, and there’s never been anything like what’s happening in China.