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The politics of concrete

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Ever wondered why concrete is poured all over our planet, even for mega projects of questionable value?

I encourage all of you to read this brilliant article “Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth” in the UK Guardian.

The Guardian goes through what kind of impact the excessive concrete has on the ecology:

  • If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world with up to 2.8bn tonnes, surpassed only by China and the US.
  • … concrete outweighs the combined carbon mass of every tree, bush and shrub on the planet. Our built environment is, in these terms, outgrowing the natural one.
  • Half of concrete’s CO2 emissions are created during the manufacture of clinker, the most-energy intensive part of the cement-making process.
  • Concrete is a thirsty behemoth, sucking up almost a 10th of the world’s industrial water use. This often strains supplies for drinking and irrigation,
  • It also worsens the problem of silicosis and other respiratory diseases.
  • even the acquisition of sand can be catastrophic – destroying so many of the world’s beaches and river courses
  • The biodiversity crisis – which many scientists believe to be as much of a threat as climate chaos – is driven primarily by the conversion of wilderness to agriculture, industrial estates and residential blocks.

 

Then these few paras are worth reflecting on:

The politics of concrete are less divisive, but more corrosive. The main problem here is inertia. Once this material binds politicians, bureaucrats and construction companies, the resulting nexus is almost impossible to budge. Party leaders need the donations and kickbacks from building firms to get elected, state planners need more projects to maintain economic growth, and construction bosses need more contracts to keep money rolling in, staff employed and political influence high. Hence the self-perpetuating political enthusiasm for environmentally and socially dubious infrastructure projects and cement-fests like the Olympics, the World Cup and international exhibitions.

READ MORE:  Penang landslide: Stop passing the buck

Here the article talks about diminishing returns:

But there is only so much concrete you can usefully lay without ruining the environment. The ever-diminishing returns were made apparent in the 1990s, when even the most creative politicians struggled to justify the government’s stimulus spending packages. This was a period of extraordinarily expensive bridges to sparsely inhabited regions, multi-lane roads between tiny rural communities, cementing over the few remaining natural riverbanks, and pouring ever greater volumes of concrete into the sea walls that were supposed to protect 40% of the Japanese coastline.

This bit mentions the cementing of riverbanks and hillsides:

In his book Dogs and Demons, the author and longtime Japanese resident Alex Kerr laments the cementing over of riverbanks and hillsides in the name of flood and mudslide prevention. Runaway government-subsidised construction projects, he told an interviewer, “have wreaked untold damage on mountains, rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, everywhere — and it goes on at a heightened pace. That is the reality of modern Japan, and the numbers are staggering.”

Perhaps it starts with our obsession in measuring economic performance by using GDP:

GDP is how governments assess their weight in the world. And nothing bulks up a country like concrete.

That is true of all countries at some stage. During their early stages of development, heavyweight construction projects are beneficial like a boxer putting on muscle. But for already mature economies, it is harmful like an aged athlete pumping ever stronger steroids to ever less effect.

Dig a hole in the ground and then fill it?

READ MORE:  'PTMP' - or property play and greenwash?

During the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, Keynesian economic advisers told the Japanese government the best way to stimulate GDP growth was to dig a hole in the ground and fill it. Preferably with cement. The bigger the hole, the better. This meant profits and jobs.

A final note:

According to the watchdog group Transparency International, construction is the world’s dirtiest business, far more prone to graft than mining, real estate, energy or the arms market. No country is immune, but in recent years, Brazil has revealed most clearly the jawdropping scale of bribery in the industry.

As elsewhere, the craze for concrete in South America’s biggest nation started benignly enough as a means of social development, then morphed into an economic necessity, and finally metastasised into a tool for political expediency and individual greed.

All excerpts above from the Guardian article. Do read the whole article.

 

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BB Boy
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BB Boy

Khoo Salman on Astro Awani’s Let’s Talk with Sharaad Kuttan last night on her book launch.

http://english.astroawani.com/malaysia-videos/lets-talk-sharaad-kuttan-episode-201-440188?_ga=2.30826431.1852611083.1556338602-2136431906.1556338601

Anil can get Khoo Salma to arrange time slot on this program to talk about alternative to PTMP now that Khoo has got contact to the show.

Wei
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Wei

hopefully her hair dye is environmental friendly……hehe

Kanchana
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Kanchana

PH government coming hard on corruption such that certain civil servants can no longer cari makan with additional side income thus losing more support, according to PM Mahathir.
Kleptocracy has bred many corrupted civil servants?

Jordan
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Jordan

Mahathir said civil servants are more religious now but some still accept bribes
https://youtu.be/bBSsOIYK0wE

Jordan
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Jordan

There are civil servants who want the current government to fall because they no longer receive corrupt money, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Prime Minister said they (civil servants) felt the previous administration was far better because during that era they received extra income on top of their monthly salary.

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/05/05/dr-m-some-civil-servants-want-pakatan-to-fall-for-fighting-corruptionErr#IPutWzbrgY1yg2Ie.99

Jordan
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Jordan

The year-on-year residential overhang in Malaysia increased to 32,313 units valued at RM19.86bil in 2018, an increase of 30.6% in volume and 27% in value, according to the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH).

In its Property Market Report 2018, JPPH said high rise units formed the bulk of the overhang units, representing 43.4% (14,031 units) of the total.

“Most of them were concentrated in Perak (2,905 units) and Kuala Lumpur (2,692 units),” the report said.

https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2019/04/30/over-30pc-increase-in-unsold-residential-properties-in-malaysia/#KILf2YXMAe0IFeLQ.99

Bismi
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Bismi

Trending now is the politics of Johor Royalty.

Jordan
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Jordan

“If want to take care of FAM also is so difficult that you have to quit in less than a year, imagine the responsibility of a prime minister who sincerely wants to heal our beloved nation,” Youth & Sports Minister Syed Saddiq to TMJ.

Bismi
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Bismi

TMJ (maybe) failed in FAM because unlike JDT he could not buy success with foreign players for national team.

Jordan
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Jordan

Quiting itself is failure.

tunglang
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tunglang

FAM is all about local talents & hard work & sacrifice.
One example is Moktar Dahari, our local version of Diego Maradona.
TMJ doesn’t have all the 3 prerequisites to help make FAM roar again. He thought throwing money in supermarket could work but FAM is not about money makes the football spin around!

Jordan
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Jordan

JDT football team with hugh sponsorship from China developers (Country Garden, Vantage Bay etc) could pay hugh salary to its local and foreign players. Cash is king so it won Liga Super titles in the last 5 years opposed. But JDT (Juara Kampung?) failed miserably in AFC Champions League is another story. But many other teams lack sponsorship yet mismanaged financially (MACC should take note) and bought players they could ill afford, many still owed players/coaches salary from past seasons. Now Malaysia Football League (TMJ is the chairman) lost TM as sponsor for Liga Super, reduced grants for teams causing… Read more »

Jordan
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Jordan

Mohammad Zamri Vinoth, an associate of controversial preacher Zakir Naik, was detained by the Perlis Serious Crime (D9) division following several reports lodged against him for insulting Hinduism.

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/04/28/zakir-naik-associate-arrested-in-perlis-for-insulting-hinduism/

V Ramesh
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V Ramesh

Most Hindu devotees are wary of Zakir Naik.
Zamora cannot appreciate the diversity of Maia.

Jordan
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Jordan

Controversial Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik has been charged in absentia by the Indian authorities on Thursday with money laundering.

Zakir Naik who is wanted by his home country, India has been alleged to have acquired US$28 million or RM116 million worth of criminal assets.

He is currently leaving in Malaysia where he has permanent residency.

https://www.thestartv.com/v/zakir-naik-charged-in-in-india-with-money-laundering#cp8aB220YhWbKyR4.99

glissantia
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glissantia

This is ~7% of all GHG (CO2e); the article says 4-8%. Construction itself adds another ~1%. From the article: [China] “has announced plans to construct 100 cement factories across 50 nations”. The article also implies a lot of corruption everywhere – except in the angelic West. It also claims that construction is more profitable than the arms (war); I doubt it. The destruction of biomes also affects karst caves where essential bats live. It spreads pests and pathogens that were constrained until the intrusion. However, for capitalism, any destruction, illness or other problem means more business and profit – because… Read more »

Jordan
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tunglang
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tunglang

oThe Mother Earth is enough for everyone if only we learn to live not by greed, not by dubious standards, not by excessive commercialism, not by misleading GDPs, & definitely not by foreign exchange tied to performing currencies (which is proned to manipulation by rogue speculators & political foes / economic colonialists). Humanity requires more creative options for how to live, to produce, to share (this is paramount for keeping greed & power at bay) using Earth’s finite resources at optimal demands so to speak for sustainability into the future. Money, Power, Sex & Influence are the pulling factors that… Read more »

Wei
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Wei

so how much had your nephew profit from the “boom” in the construction industry..?

tunglang
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tunglang

Why so kay-po?
It’s non of your business as long as he can survive & enjoy life without he-he-he at the slightest provocation! I call that he-he-he of yours as insane!!!

Wei
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Wei

so why do developers profit from property and infrastructure development concern you…why you so kay po ?

tunglang
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tunglang

You have nothing constructive to say the least but all the nonsense that suit your demented he-he-he for the day!

Wei
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Wei

exposing hypocrisy is a very positive contribution , you no think so ??

tunglang
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tunglang

You still don’t understand what is good development & what’s bad. There are good developers vs greedy developers. You brain must be myopic to see all developers as bad! No wonder you he-he-he at the slightest opportunity with nonsense! The same for Shriek.
So, what’s hypocrisy my nephew work with a good developer? Jealous?

Shriek
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Tung land’s comments and kau beh kau bu is very constructive. Rest not toeinghis view are all non sense

Shriek
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You better move close to your beloved Belum. Otherwise one day you go there it become Atas.

tunglang
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tunglang

You are too late to advise.
I have been there (more than 15 yrs ago), befriend with Bunians, & already made it my 2nd Home.
Btw, the Bunians are still waiting patiently for you. Dare or not to take the one-way-ticket challenge? Be a man or shriek like a Pontianak all your life!

Jordan
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Jordan

The Penang South Reclamation (PSR) off the southern coast of the island is crucial for the economic transformation of the state, said Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/05/06/cm-defends-reclamation-project/#FXe9LDsmR84QY39l.99

Jordan
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Jordan

Latest UN report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services:
Current global response insufficient;
‘Transformative changes’ needed to restore and protect nature;
Opposition from vested interests can be overcome for public good
Most comprehensive assessment of its kind;
1,000,000 species threatened with extinction.

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/

tunglang
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tunglang

Questions over Penang’s RM46b mega transport master plan https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/474516 Another mega-project which is in the process of being finalised after the RM44 billion East Coast Rail Link and the RM140 billion development value Bandar Malaysia is the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP). As with the earlier two projects mentioned, there are a number of vital questions that remain unanswered over PTMP’s projects and the massive land reclamation project, reportedly worth an eye-popping RM70 billion (subsequently denied) to finance them. There is no clarity on how it will be undertaken, while there is a strong China element to this… Read more »

Jordan
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Jordan

In what specific ways are the Malays and Muslims being bullied in this country today? What specific privileges of the Malays have been withheld and what specific economic interests have been denied to them?

https://m.malaysiakini.com/letters/474466

Jordan
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Jordan
Jordan
Guest
Jordan
Jordan
Guest
Jordan

Happy May Day to all.
Have a good rest today – go watch Avengers: Endgame before the spoilers hit you.

Wei
Guest
Wei

the cinema hall is made of concrete…hehe

BB Boy
Guest
BB Boy

Who live and who perish no spoiler pls,Anil in this blog. I have not seen it.

Every journey has its end (quote)

Shriek
Guest

If do not use concrete, you can then use Timber? Pg ngos want more felling of trees like Francis light? Many timber last 10 to 20 years as compare to concrete 50 to 100 years.
Barking at wrong things. Should pressure gomen for more solar panels in street lights and sell back solar electricity to tnb.

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

From Penang to Putrajaya Finance Ministry: Yoursay: Soft spot for developers, too tough on homebuyers? https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/474267 YOURSAY | ‘Let the developers enjoy capitalism in all its glory, bankruptcy included.’ Touche: For once, former minister Khairy Jamaluddin is right. The Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) is a scam. It does not deserve the support of Finance Ministry, Bank Negara and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. It should allow market forces to dictate. If I’m Guan Eng, I would consolidate the property industry by reducing property prices and allowing developers to sink. How to do it? By simply having a policy that developers… Read more »

Shriek
Guest

Concrete last for at least 50 to 100 years or more. How long can timber last? Otherwise, the forest will deplete faster every 10yeArs and be

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

The impetus for the sorry state of affairs we now have was what we called the Industrial Revolution created by the west. Bringing with it mass employment, wealth creation + promises of more foreign exchange earnings, BUT also demand pressures on natural resources, massive social upheavals + population migrations to the cities, hungry governments decided that supply must be met by demands to make economic sense of GDPs & balance of payment. Thus the pursuit of population increase by nations to fuel demands & labors for industries that saw no end for whatever one produced from paper clips to cars… Read more »

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

Industrial 4.0 fueled by big data 5G and robotics will see the end of many traditional jobs, even in finance sector, resulting in more unemployment. PH cannot depend on consumption to drive our economy when the Ringgit is weak and rakyat has low income facing job loss, unless personal debts continue to rise further.

Drink your own Kopi-O or Teh-O (no sugar) brewed at home and avoid fancy coffee joints or bubble tea to preserve your limited financial resources.

Shriek
Guest

Yet you said your nephew is doing a good job with a developer.

glissantia
Guest
glissantia

The water deep in the mantle is of no benefit to us. It is bound up to the other stuff there. Somewhat like the giant ball of iron and nickel at the centre of the planet.

The irreversible loss of fresh water is mainly due to mining, especially fracking. It poisons catchment areas, rivers and aquifers permanently.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

PUTRAJAYA, May 1 ― Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir reminded the nation’s workforce that so-called 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs may not pay well but were still honest work and vital to the nation’s development.

The prime minister was responding to the press about comments that local workers found pay for 3D work to be unattractive, after attending the National Labour Day Celebration here.

BB Boy
Guest
BB Boy

Anil, can you confirm that Giant Bayan Baru to give way to Ideal mega concrete condo project???

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

Better stay in wooden kampung house with atap roof. No need concrete. Possible if Penang islanders migrate to mainland rural area, or live as orang asli in Belum reserve.

Shriek
Guest

Go and cut and deforest to use Timber for everything. After 5 to 10 years, rebuild again for the timber will rot.

tunglang
Guest
tunglang

Hei, use your common sense.
Who says to not use cement in total? Might as well don’t breath as our air is polluted!
Go drink more Essense of Chicken, ok?
And don’t comment like that Shriek & pollute all your other good comments!