China Hoovering the World’s Raw Materials

China is huge, its economy is exploding, and its consequent hunger for resources is having profound effects on the world’s economy and environment. Sure, you’ve heard it before, but trust us — it’s a big deal. Consider: According to the country’s own statistics, it consumed half of the world’s cement production last year, one-third of its steel, nearly one-fourth of its copper, and one-fifth of its aluminum. China is now the world’s second-largest importer of oil, after the U.S. Its demand for resources has driven the price of shipping freight through the roof, and because its ports and other ports around the world haven’t expanded fast enough to keep pace with China’s resource demands, some one-fifth of the world’s bulk freighters are tied up at any one time, essentially waiting in line to load and unload cargo. Get used to it: China will be topping economic and environmental headlines for years to come.