• 3 million — number of acres of open space developed each year in the U.S.
  • 40 — percentage increase in acreage of developed land in the U.S. between 1982 and 1997
  • 1891 — year in which the first road was paved in the U.S.
  • 2.4 million — number of miles of paved public roads in the U.S. in 1997
  • 23 — percentage increase in miles of paved public roads in the U.S. from 1977 to 1997
  • 83.9 million — number of metric tons of cement produced in the U.S. in 1998
  • 10.7 million — metric tons of greenhouse gases (carbon equivalent) released in 1998 as a by-product of cement production in the U.S., an increase of 18 percent since 1990
  • 132,197 — acres of mature forest needed to sequester that carbon
  • 6-8 million — metric ton increase in concrete demand expected due to funding in the 1997 transportation bill (TEA-21)
  • 1.4 million — number of dollars in hard money campaign contributions given by “building materials and equipment” PACs in the 1997-98 election cycle
  • 1,900 — percentage increase in storm water flow caused by replacing forest land with commercial development
  • 100 (virtually) — percentage of the length of the Los Angeles River paved with concrete
  • 12 million — number of cubic yards of concrete in the Grand Coulee Dam, the largest concrete structure in the world

Sources:
1 — U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1997 National Resources Inventory: Highlights.
2 — Calculated from U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1997 National Resources Inventory: Highlights.
3 — American Concrete Pavement Association, History — Concrete in Highway Transportation.
4 — U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics 1997 (PDF).
5 — Calculated from U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics Summary to 1995 (PDF).
6 — U.S. Geological Survey, Minerals Yearbook: Cement (PDF), 1998.
7 — U.S. EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-1998 (PDF).
8 — Calculated assuming that 200 tons of carbon are sequestered in one hectare of forest, as cited in: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Reference Manual (Volume 3) (PDF).
9 — U.S. Geological Survey, Minerals Yearbook: Cement (PDF), 1998.
10 — Center for Responsive Politics, Building Materials & Equipment PAC Contributions to Federal Candidates, 1997-1998.
11 — John Irvin, The Importance of Being Pervious.
12 — Blake Gumprecht, The Los Angeles River: Its Life, Death and Possible Rebirth (introduction), Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.
13 — U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Grand Coulee Powerplant, Sept. 2000.

Grist relies on the support of generous readers like you. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.