This week Guardian Cities has focused on the huge impact of concrete on the modern world. Here is some of the industrys response
This week Guardian Cities is investigating the impact of concrete, revealing the terrible destruction it causes to the planet:
Concrete is responsible for up to 8% of the worlds emissions of carbon dioxide, more than any material after fossil fuels.
Concrete in cities exacerbates flooding that kills thousands of people every year.
Its dust can be toxic.
It uses a tremendous amount of fresh water, roughly 10% of the global supply, often in communities where water for irrigation is in short supply.
It contributes to the heat island effect, raising temperatures in some already dangerously hot cities.
It clogs landfills around the world, as much of it simply dumped when were finished with it less than 1% of concrete in Brazil is reused, for example.
If the concrete industry were a country, it would be the third worst emitter of CO2 after China and the US.
To round out our coverage, we also published articles about the history of concrete, including its use in Roman times and now in 3D printing; its popularity in architecture; its social history; its use in modern day China and postwar Italy; and many of the various alternatives and innovations currently being developed.
And we called for engagement and action from the industry.
Several industry figures did respond to our coverage.
In an email, the Global Cement and Concrete Association said they were wholly disappointed not to have been consulted on the thrust of the articles. In a statement on their website, the association responded further:
The Guardians Concrete Week is a great opportunity to look at a range of important issues associated with concrete, and it is right to examine some of the important challenges the world faces. However, inadequately covering the significant work already underway by the sector, as well as underplaying concretes critical benefits, gives an incomplete picture.
We recognise there are challenges in cement and concrete production and have been working hard over many years to find solutions. There are some important innovations already underway and by collaborating with partners in the built environment we can make an important contribution to reducing global emissions. We are fully committed to continuing to take climate action and to move towards a sustainable future.
Concretes contribution to society over its whole life should always be considered. It has many important benefits such as its ability to reabsorb CO2 from the atmosphere, as well as its thermal mass properties which means that it can reduce the energy needs of buildings.
Only putting across one side of the debate is narrow and fails to address the realities of the needs of a significantly growing global population and increasing urbanisation. Safe homes and buildings, clean water and resilient infrastructure will be needed in the future world all of which concrete can provide.
Other industry figures tweeted. Several of them claimed that, rather than contributing to climate change, concrete is actually part of the solution.
Others said they were disappointed in us and were looking forward to positive stories about concrete.
Guardian Concrete Week continues.
Guardian Concrete Week investigates the shocking impact of concrete on the modern world. Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use the hashtag #GuardianConcreteWeek to join the discussion or sign up for our weekly newsletter
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