Take a breather from thinking about global climate change. Think about resource depletion from overuse and pollution. “Wow, thanks,” you say. Maybe you worry about the percolating fresh water crisis. Maybe you worry about decimated fish stocks and acidifying oceans. I know. Ugh, I know.
See the documentary “Sand Wars.” You need to be depressed by a looming category of consequential scarcity that probably does not even register on your “oh, my God” scale. After air and water, we consume sand more than anything else.
Sand is necessary to produce hundreds of routinely used products. Every microchip is made with sand. Dwarfing all that use, construction locks up an unfathomable amount of sand for highways and buildings. Whole economies are shored up by the tourists’ use of beaches.
Singapore has expanded its land base by 20 percent by taking sand from other countries – and that much again planned. With sand from thousands of miles away, Dubai has built hundreds of tiny islands because creating new land is cheaper than developing existing real estate. (Desert sand, by the way, is the wrong kind of sand. It can’t be used to make concrete.)
Besides what’s mined and dredged – often a “free” unregulated resource, often stolen, often managed by sand mafias and corrupt government connections – at least 70 percent of the world’s beaches are receding. Humans that love their coastal property denature natural sand cycles. A special niche in the construction biz replenishes beaches (which soon need re-replenishment).
You need to be pummeled by more than reading this. See “Sand Wars.” It’s solid and well-crafted, a standard documentary report that needs to be added to deepening a realization that we all need to cultivate … we consume mega-radically way too much stuff.