The Concrete Jungle

Sometimes I quite like the concrete jungle because I skateboard and I wouldn’t be able to without smooth concrete surfaces, although I’ve seen a skate video where someone is skating boulders in the US desert and it looks like fun. Other times I hate all the concrete and asphalt of our cities.

Scottish crofter Stonehead mentioned that

the airline industry is a major producer of carbon emissions and we’re urged to either not fly or only fly if genuinely necessary.

But he notes there’s an industry that’s trying to keep as low a profile as the airline industry, but may be a bigger producer of greenhouse gas emissions.

Production of just one tonne of cement results in the emission of 900kg of carbon dioxide, which means global carbon emissions by the cement industry total 1.44 billion tonnes.

Stonehead suggests decreasing our demand for cement.

Ask yourself if you really need a bigger, new-build conventional house with a concrete foundation and concrete block walls. Ask yourself if you really need that extension, that patio or that conservatory. Ask if your shed really does need a foundation made of poured concrete or concrete slabs.

My dream is to build a straw bale house, but this isn’t for everyone. A much easier way to decrease demand for cement is to live in a house that was built in the past and thus negate the need to build yet another dwelling, with all the resources this entails.

the empty block from which a house was recently demolished I live in a suburb that has a lot of older houses on large blocks. My house is one of these older houses, although the previously paddock-sized back garden has been fenced off, cleared and sold for future development (and it’s been growing weeds for at least five years). My house is weatherboard with east-west facing windows, but despite its problems, it’s a cosy little cottage which I love. Every time I see an older house up for sale I cringe. More than likely it will soon be knocked down and new houses built on the land. I’ve recently watched a few demolitions; the digger swinging its destruction through roofs and walls and memories. It feels like a death in the neighbourhood. It’s not quite as bad as the whine of a chainsaw massacring the trees on a cleared block – that really is death.

The land ends up being more densely utilised, but so many resources go into this redevelopment. And the resulting new houses often have two stories with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. I guess an expansive abode shows the neighbourhood you’ve made it. This building frenzy is helped along by state government incentives to build rather than move into an already constructed house. This leads to some blocks being left empty for months and even years because of a shortage of labour and materials (most recently bricks, which probably have similar emissions to cement) for all the construction. The cement that’s poured into this economic craze could build mountains (and one big greenhouse).


Further reading

2 thoughts on “The Concrete Jungle

  1. Thanks for drawing more attention to this issue. Cement is a bit like plastic – it’s everywhere and everyone “needs” it, but no one really notices it or thinks about the real cost of its apparent cheapness and ubiquity.

    I’ve browsed your blog a few times and should make more effort to come back, but so much to do, so little time…

    PS I’m an ex-pat Aussie myself, and used to live in Perth, Mandurah and Bunbury.

  2. Thanks for dropping by. I only visit your blog every so often and yes, there’s never enough time.

    You’ve travelled a long way. Does that mean that you’ve got an Aussie accent among all those Scots?

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