Think Locally: The Flaws of Importing Material
[“The Ethics of Brick”] makes some good points, but looking globally for building material sourcing is not a viable long-term plan.
We are living in a globalized economy, and we can work within this system to make it more fair and equitable—such as by engaging in Fair Trade—but the future of sustainable economies lies in small networks of local-living economies. It is the same with information, energy and food production, and building materials.
Local food is more secure. Local building materials are less energy-intensive in their use, and help identify the region to the people living there as well as anyone visiting. What would the villages in Tuscany mean if they were all made of formed concrete?
Product Marketing & Sales Support Engineer
Beacon Power Corporation
Providing incentives to haul heavy construction materials thousands of miles across the planet and burning barrels of fossil fuels in the process is a bit silly. [“The Ethics of Brick”]
We should do a great deal more to lift third world economies and assist the neediest countries among us, but the focus should be on providing monetary subsidies, technical expertise, and other lightweight, easily transportable resources to fund buildings, infrastructure, and other economic development efforts. Water transportation is extremely energy-intensive and polluting. Oil is a precious, if polluting, resource that we are rapidly depleting. Shipping heavy construction materials from far-flung places around the planet is an unnecessary and unwise use of such a precious resource. It is not a long-term strategy to support economic development anywhere, let alone distant, impoverished countries.
Again, better to ship our dollars, our expertise, and our commitment to assist local, sustainable economic development, and use any need for heavy construction materials that can be produced at home to address poverty in our own backyard.