This book is a second book about material that piqued my interest. The first book is 'Stuff Matters'. Vaclav Smil's book seems more serious compare to 'Stuff Matters' written by a scientist and engineer. The Strength of material class got me interested in looking at material. In our Structural Systems class we had a speaker from the Architecture department gave a talk about material in construction. He compared parking garages and the concrete material versus steel. He looked at which material is more sustainable then the other one. Concrete has some problems with it. A fact Bill alerted me to is that China used more cement in the last three years than the U.S. used in the entire 20th century.
Before other building material , I was interested in paper as a material for journal writing, structural models and origami. I had not thought about structural system or selection nor the material production of concrete and steel. We were taught to design but I don't recall having a deeper understanding of material selection or production cost and the environment.
Bill Gate's Review has some interesting thoughts on paper because he is pushing towards a paperless office. As a mortgage processor I know that we have decrease the amount of paper file we keep. Most of the documents can now be electronically signed. Most of our papers are handed in to an electronic drop box in the form of PDFs. Smil suggests that paper will still be with us for a very long time.
Smil's idea of dematerialization states that as a given product becomes more efficient to produce, prices go down and consumption goes up. An example, someone makes a cell phone with less metal, which makes them cheaper, which makes them more widespread. "Less," Smil states, "has thus been an enabling agent of more."
There are some great infographics on Mr. Gate's review. Check it out.