OK! Next on my reading list is this book:
MAKING THE MODERN WORLD: Materials & Dematerialization By Vaclav Smil
Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization considers the principal materials used throughout history, from wood and stone, through to metals, alloys, plastics and silicon, describing their extraction and production as well as their dominant applications. The evolving productivities of material extraction, processing, synthesis, finishing and distribution, and the energy costs and environmental impact of rising material consumption are examined in detail. The book concludes with an outlook for the future, discussing the prospects for dematerialization and potential constrains on materials.
* This ought to be an interesting read. Vaclav Smil is an environmental sciences professor who writes histories of things like energy and innovation.