Sand: An Endangered Natural Resource
Li t t l e k n o wn f a c t : Pr a c t i c a l l y e v e r y skyscraper in every one of the world’s cities is essentially made of sand.
As are nearly all shopping malls, condo complexes, of airport terminals, dams and other large structures.
America builds with concrete — gabillions of tons of it — and concrete is nothing but sand mixed with a bit of gravel and water, then bound together with cement and a few other ingredients, and allowed to harden.
In addition, every glass window in those structures is made of melted sand.
Then there’s the network of transportation routes we navigate to reach each of those buildings — millions of miles of highways, tunnels, streets, subways, sidewalks, and airport runways — all mostly made of concrete or asphalt — all comprised mostly of sand.
As evermore people migrate to cities, sand follows to accommodate them.
Mountains of sand are poured i nto constructing new homes.
“A t y p i c a l American house requires more than a hundred t ons of s and, gravel, and crushed stone ... and more than 200 tons if you include its share of the street that runs in front of it,” David Owen reported this May in The New Yorker magazine.
Two ot her huge s a nd hogs are devouring ever-increasing volumes of t his resource: Beach restoration and Big Oil fracking.
We humans are extracting an unbelievable amount of these tiny grains of rock to construct our modern life, using more sand today than any other natural resource besides water.
Another little-known fact: The world is starting to run out of usable sand.
“Huh?,” you might ask in disbelief.
The planet has vast deserts t hat are spreading at alarming rates, and the climate-change forecasts say - cation is coming at us.
But t he key adjective is usable, and desert sand grains are t oo small and rounded to make concrete or asphalt.
And while nature does constantly create more sand, it can’t create nearly enough at a rate fast enough to keep up with the rapacious extraction by industries, governments and our world’s teeming population.
The rush t o grab every l ast speck of sand on t he planet is no day at the beach.
Many billions of dollars are at stake, so the journey f r om nature t o concrete draws many thousands of players vying for a cut of
While many sand peddlers make some effort to minimize t he damages, many more don’t care what their plundering is doing to the Earth and its inhabitants.
Thus, whether the operators are corporate elites or black-market gangs, much of the global sand trade is corrupt and barely moni
So, the humble commodi-