The creation of steel is perhaps one of the most important breakthroughs for mankind next to the discovery of fire. The world would not be the same today had steel not been invented. Civilization, as we know it, would collapse if steel suddenly became absent and nonexistent.
Take a quick look around you. Even if it’s not visible, chances are there are a lot of things surrounding you that are made of or contain steel.
Steel has different but equally important roles to play in the areas of infrastructure, transportation, economy, sustainability, health, and entertainment. Let’s take a look at how important steel materials are to civilization and why we will probably not survive without them.
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Without steel, our surroundings would look entirely different. Our lives would be seemingly thrown into the perpetual stone age.
We would be living in primitive housing units made up of different organic materials such as mud, clay, adobe, mortar, stone, and wood. Roads will not be the same without steel rebars to support them. Bridges cannot support extremely heavy loads since they will probably still be made out of wood or stones. We would not have buildings and skyscrapers to work out of. Electricity would not be available and we will still be lighting our homes with candles and lamps.
When it comes to travel, horse-drawn carriages will be the main mode of transport on land. Farming will still be done by cows laden with yokes. Air travel will be nonexistent. Ships and boats will be the primary way to traverse bodies of water.
That’s a pretty far cry from the conveniences of modern transport. Thanks to steel, we can get from point A to point B a lot faster with our cars. Overseas trips are made possible by huge marine vessels that can withstand the harshness of the open seas. Going on a vacation or business trip is made easier and faster with air travel. Despite steel being a heavy material to use for planes, the aviation industry considers it a more viable option compared to lightweight aluminum because of its strength and cost-effectiveness.
Steel manufacturing is a flagship industry in the world today. It is estimated that about 95 countries have steel production as one of their top industries. The production of steel has provided millions of jobs all over the world, which has affected countries’ economies in a positive light. It is a vital aspect of a country’s economy and governments have benefited from it.
Because steel is highly in demand, large amounts of steel have to continually be churned out to meet the ever-increasing demands. In the US alone, there are over 160,000 workers employed in the steel industry that rakes in as much as $60 billion annually. Therefore, a thriving steel industry is almost synonymous with a thriving economy.
One of steel’s unique properties that make it a material of choice for almost all types of product manufacturers is its sustainability. It is inexpensive to produce and can be reused and recycled virtually endlessly if done right. It gets recycled more times compared to aluminum, paper, glass, and plastic combined.
The recycled steel can then be used to create new steel products at very minimal cost and energy consumption in manufacturing.
In terms of healthcare, steel has become a very valuable asset for medical practitioners. Modern medicine is largely dependent on technological advancements. Studies and experiments are conducted in facilities and done with equipment made out of stainless steel.
Hospitals, doctor’s clinics, and health centers use stainless steel because it is easy to clean and are hygienic compared to other metals. It’s strong and resistant to corrosion, especially surgical steel. The strength and durability of the material ensure that bacteria and germs are easily eliminated in the sterilization and sanitation process required of medical equipment and tools.
Lastly, entertainment and recreation would not be the same apart from steel. First, tourism would be affected if steel was not present. Imagine going to Paris with no Eiffel Tower or heading to Liberty Island but no Ms. Liberty in sight. Theme and recreation parks would have no fun and exciting rides. Movies and TV shows will be replaced by stage plays and live skits. We would not have our digital devices that are important in gathering information and providing hours of entertainment.
The disappearance of steel might not be as dramatic as the sun disappearing or a black hole swallowing all life on Earth but it is just as critical. It may seem like such an ordinary material but it has made life a lot better for mankind and has allowed us to achieve the unimaginable and unthinkable.Tags: Look Like without Steel