I wrote last week about how rapidly China’s energy and emissions have grown in the last decade. But how about materials production?
Here is a new rule of thumb: if humans make something, then China probably makes at least half of it. To check how precise this rule of thumb is I spent an hour or so producing the chart below (using USGS stats). This shows what percentage of each of the world’s most important materials reported by USGS is made in China.
As you can see it is roughly half or more for almost everything.
Of course if we are simply thinking in terms of weight and energy required for production, materials are dominated by cement, steel and aluminium.
So, the rule of thumb holds very well. And is likely to hold very well for a long time, unless China sees an economic contraction.
This all raises an obvious question. Has a single country every produced this much of the world’s steel, cement, or aluminium before?
If I find the time I will expand on China’s materials consumption, and its potential impacts on climate change, in a future piece at The Energy Collective.