The car I drive to work is made of around 2,600 pounds of steel, 800 pounds of plastic, and 400 pounds of light metal alloys. The trip from my house to the office is roughly four miles long, all surface streets, which means I travel over some 15,000 tons of concrete each morning.
Once I’m at the office, I usually open a can of Diet Coke. Over the course of the day I might drink three or four. All those cans also add up to a lot of aluminum, on the order of 35 pounds a year.
Did you get in a car this morning? Or on a train? Did you drink a soda?
You probably did, and without giving it much thought, but fortunately, Bill Gates gives everything a lot of thought. For Quartz, Gates has written about the new book, Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization by Vaclav Smil, his favorite author. He says he studies “Smil’s histories so [he] can understand the future.”