Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rampant materialism: Why does every person need 200kg of steel a year?

Is the raw stuff we devour - plastic, steel, concrete, energy - going down even as the economy grows?

Imagine that every year, every one of us gave birth to an eight-year-old made from steel. Disturbing image.

Now go further. Imagine that you also gave birth - everyone, male and female, young and old, every year - to 10 cement, one plastic and three paper eight-year-olds and one new-born aluminium baby.

Well, in a sense, you do. This is the global average production per head of stuff: about 200kg of steel each, for example, enough to sculpt a child.

But we aren't all at the global average. In the UK, our annual consumption of materials is about three times higher.

So for the UK, we're not talking about a family of eight-year-olds any more, we're talking about enough raw materials to create adults.

This is just a visualisation of the amount of stuff we produce, no more, and if you find it odd, no problem. But for some, it might just make resource use more meaningful. more