Concrete, Cement, And Climate Emergency — An Embarrassing Cover-Up

The world is worried about the climate emergency, but tactically ignoring the enormous carbon footprint of concrete and cement. What's really going on?

Concrete, Cement, And Climate Emergency — An Embarrassing Cover-Up

Ratna and Nadim Siraj

February 4, 2024: When we talk about the climate emergency and CO2 emissions, what do we usually blame? Cars, passenger planes, petrol, diesel, and coal – basically, fossil fuels and their related industries. We never talk about ‘concrete’, which happens to be one of the top carbon dioxide emitters in the world.

From the United Nations to the United States, from governments to journalists, from democracies to monarchies, from watchdogs to corporations – no-one blames concrete for emissions. But they are extremely concerned about the climate emergency and want to punish the culprits.

They talk about fossil fuels, carbon footprint, electric cars, sustainable living, green cities, and even things like minimalism. But they are careful not to upset the construction mafia and the real-estate cabal – the umbrella industry that produces and uses concrete.

Why the double standards? In this detailed special report, we will look at concrete, which is the elephant in the room in the climate emergency debate, and which everyone pretends they can’t see.

From schools to offices, everyone everywhere has a strong opinion about pollution, vehicles, coal, and crude oil. If the climate emergency is really a worry, the public should be told the truth – that the concrete industry is a major culprit behind emissions.

Concrete’s carbon footprint

Concrete alone contributes as much as 9% to the world’s total human-made CO2 emissions, as of now. Well, that’s huge. Why does concrete emit so much carbon dioxide? And more importantly, why are climate officials, who love to call themselves climate change warriors, silent about it?

Here is the real reason behind the selective silence. The world we live in today is controlled by a small bunch of global elites. Their main mission is to urbanise the entire global population. That’s their long-term agenda. That’s how they want to run our lives.

Human civilisation is about 12,000 years old. But in just the last 200 years, our lives have changed drastically. About 56% of the world’s 810 crore people now live in urban areas. For the first time in history, a majority of the world population is living in cities and towns; only 44% live in villages.

One estimate says there are about 10,000 cities in the world right now. Half of them didn’t exist 40 years ago! We are building cities at lightning speed; forcing villagers to ditch their villages and migrate to big cities and towns. Some villages are dying, while some others are fast becoming towns. Towns are fast becoming concrete jungles.

The urbanisation dream

India, for example, was historically a civilisation of villages. But today, over 51 crore Indians live in urban areas in a total population of at least 141 crore. It is a stunning transformation into urban living. It won’t take long before the majority of Indians live in big cities, which is the overall global trend.

The whole world is rushing towards creating more urban spaces. In this mad rush to urbanise the planet, what is the most valuable material the global elites need? It is concrete.

Concrete is the main ingredient that goes into building urban houses and urban structures. Urban buildings of all shapes and sizes, from high-rises to bungalows, from gated communities to business centres – they are standing tall in big cities, thanks to concrete.

It’s not just residential areas and office buildings. Concrete is also the skeleton of superstructures that are the identity of big cities. Bridges, airports, dams, military zones, parliaments, flyovers, tunnels, shopping malls, railway stations – for everything, concrete is the DNA. And this concrete production is a gigantic culprit of CO2 emissions.

Did you know that every year, 3,000 crore tons of concrete is used worldwide? It’s a staggering figure. If you look at the per capita production of concrete, you will find that it has increased three times in the last 40 years. With India at the centre, the Asia-Pacific region is the world’s biggest concrete market.

India is witnessing an unprecedented real-estate boom, which relies on concrete. One estimate says India’s real-estate sector will be worth $1 trillion by the year 2030, which is equal to Rs 83 lakh crore. It’s an unimaginably huge figure. The demand for concrete is escalating. It’s now the most-wanted building material in the world; more in demand than steel and wood. So, it’s obvious why concrete will never be scrutinised for causing the climate emergency.

The role of cement

Concrete causes emissions because of its main component – cement. Cement, as you know, is an industry-level binding agent. It is created by burning limestone and clay. When you mix cement with water and other materials such as sand and gravel, you get concrete. It is cement that actually emits all the CO2 during its production process. Climate emergency warriors totally ignore this fact, even though 9% of artificial CO2 emissions come from cement.

It is clear why climate emergency authorities never target large companies that produce cement and concrete. Like it has been for centuries, the global elites decide what is good and what is bad for the public. They decide what is harmful and what is safe. Concrete is part of the same geopolitics.

The global elites dream of turning the world into one centrally-controlled, interconnected concrete jungle. For their dream to come true, they need millions of tons of concrete every single day to build new cities and towns. That’s why concrete needs to be protected and worshipped at all costs.

If the carbon footprint of cement is exposed, the global urbanisation project will be exposed. The balloon of aspirational urban living will burst. Therefore, concrete must be kept away from the public glare. The media is told to focus only on the other culprits of the climate emergency – such as fossil fuels, factories, oil-guzzling cars, and coal mines.

For the global elites’ full-spectrum urbanisation agenda, the carbon footprint of cement buildings and concrete structures should be hushed up. Most importantly, the public must not be told one thing – that villages don’t have a carbon footprint, compared to energy-hungry cities.

Look at some of the biggest cities today. They are epicentres of enormous buildings and superstructures. Hong Kong, New York, Dubai; our very own Dilli, Mumbai, Kolkata; then there’s Shanghai, Tokyo, London, Rome, Moscow, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Berlin – they are celebrated cities, but they are concrete jungles. They contribute to emissions in a big way.

Rat race to build cities

China, India, Brazil, Russia, and Japan are the five biggest countries in terms of number of cities. One estimate says there are over 4,000 cities and towns in India. Imagine how much concrete has gone into building them. Concrete is fuelling this urban dystopia. Naturally, it won’t be targeted – even if it changes the climate.

So, is there a solution to the problem of concrete and climate emergency? Is there an alternative to a concrete civilisation? The answer is a big ‘yes’. There are concrete examples from past and present. The solution lies in two simple words: mud houses. It sounds incredible; even outlandish.

If you find the idea of mud houses absurd, it means you have been misled. You have been brainwashed into loving concrete urbanisation. How can mud houses replace shiny high-rises and stylish concrete structures? A perception has been created to make people think mudbrick villages are uncool; they are unsustainable. That cities made of concrete represent development and social prestige. That narrative is manufactured to serve business interests.

The human race started building concrete jungles only in the last few centuries. When did industrial concrete enter our lives? Only when a few rich and powerful families took control of town-planning – families that control the manufacturing and construction mafia. Before we had centralisation of power, we lived in simple, decentralised villages. We had houses made from soil, rocks, and wood. For thousands of years, seal-level houses of the rich and poor were made from mud and clay. There was no sophisticated multinational construction industry. There were no crores of profits at stake.

In India and South Asia, village life was the backbone for centuries. Even now, outside cities and towns, you will find lakhs of villages. India has about six and a half lakh villages, where concrete has no place. More than 350 crore people live in villages globally. A vast number of them have mud houses. Villages don’t add to the climate emergency, only the cities do.

6.5 crore mud houses

In India, there are more than 6.5 crore mud houses. The only reason why Indian village life is in misery today is because the money supply is locked up in the cities. Mud houses are not the problem. They are cheap to build. They are made essentially from nature. You don’t need to spend a fortune to build them. They are built using local engineering techniques. Mud houses that are well-maintained can outlive next-door cement houses.

There are four common types of mud that is used to build durable houses: ‘Cob’, ‘Adobe’, ‘Rammed Earth’, and ‘Wattle & Daub’. Bottom line is, mud homes represent a life connected to nature and soil – unlike concrete cities. Cement houses are disconnected from the Earth.

If you go back in time, you will find there were houses made from mud and mudbricks in the Indus Valley Civilisation. That’s about 5,000 years ago. Further back, in around 9000 BCE, Jericho in modern-day Palestine had mudbrick houses. Mud homes were also in vogue in the Jordan Valley, ancient Egypt, and Mesopotamia, which is modern-day Iraq.

Today as well, there are spectacular examples of mud-house townships. Check out the mudbrick locations in Yemen, Mali, Iran, and Morocco. You will be amazed to see them standing tall and surviving time. The biggest example is the Old City of Sana’a in Yemen. It is an extraordinary civilisation, with houses made of local mud. It has high-rise buildings that stand out.

The engineering is intelligent. Ground floors of multistoreyed houses are made of stone. Upper floors are made from mud. It’s the same story with another place in Yemen – the decorated town of Shibam Hadramawt. It’s a picturesque place where about 7,000 people live. It is known for its mudbrick high-rise buildings.

For the elite Western world, which is obsessed with concrete life, Yemen is a fantasyland; a miracle. They call Shibam ‘Manhattan of the Desert’. There are other striking places, such as Tabo monastery in Spiti Valley, and Kuchesar fort in Uttar Pradesh. It was built using mud in the year 996.

If you look at Iran, you will be amazed at the sight of Arg-e-Bam. Then there is Villa de Leyva in Colombia, and the Siwa Oasis in Egypt. Also, there is the Grand Mosque of Djenne in Mali. It is the largest mud-building in the world. It was built back in 1905 and firmly stands tall right now.

Let’s come back to the topic of climate emergency. It is crystal clear that global elites have decided to protect the concrete industry. They want enormous volumes of concrete in the coming decades and centuries to urbanise human life. Concrete is a major CO2 emitter. Yet, it is never in the dock.

The human race is the lifeblood of civilisation, concrete or otherwise. It is time for the public to take a pause. It is time for them to look around at the centralised concrete jungle. It is time for them to rethink the way they live. If the climate emergency is indeed a concern, it’s time for them to break free from the real-estate illusion. It’s time for them to go back to good old soil.

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