Why the world is running out of sand – BBC Future

Epigraph:

The sun and the moon run their courses according to a fixed reckoning.
And the stemless plants and the trees humbly submit to His will.
And the heaven He has raised high and set up a measure,
That you may not transgress the measure.
So weigh all things in justice and fall not short of the measure. (Al Quran 55:6-10)

sand

Smoothed by the wind, sand in deserts like the Sahara, which cover huge swathes of the planet, do not lock together well in concrete (Credit: Alamy)

Source: BBC

By Vince Beiser

It may be little more than grains of weathered rock, and can be found in deserts and on beaches around the world, but sand is also the world’s second most consumed natural resource.

The South African entrepreneur shot dead in September. Two Indian villagers killed in a gun battle in August. A Mexican environmental activist murdered in June.

Though separated by thousands of miles, these killings share an unlikely cause. They are some of the latest casualties in a growing wave of violence sparked by the struggle for one of the 21st Century’s most important, but least appreciated, commodities: ordinary sand.

Trivial though it may seem, sand is a critical ingredient of our lives. It is the primary raw material that modern cities are made from. The concrete used to construct shopping malls, offices, and apartment blocks, along with the asphalt we use to build roads connecting them, are largely just sand and gravel glued together. The glass in every window, windshield, and smart phone screen is made of melted-down sand. And even the silicon chips inside our phones and computers – along with virtually every other piece of electronic equipment in your home – are made from sand.

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And where is the problem with that, you might ask? Our planet is covered in it. Huge deserts from the Sahara to Arizona have billowing dunes of the stuff. Beaches on coastlines around the world are lined with sand. We can even buy bags of it at our local hardware shop for a fistful of small change.

But believe it or not, the world is facing a shortage of sand. How can we possibly be running low on a substance found in virtually every country on earth and that seems essentially limitless?

Read further

Suggested reading

Focus on Islam, Christianity and Environment

An Islamic Response to Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Environment

 

Categories: Environment, The Muslim Times

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