Our earth is running out of resources; fresh water, fossil fuels, forests, pretty much everything we base our lives on, but that’s not it. Our planet has 71 percent of its surface covered with water, so you may think that we have infinite amounts of water and sand. Really! Sand is free, and you can find it everywhere. However, you would be shocked to hear that it is another resource that we are running out of.
If you get to visit another country and decide to bring a handful of sand from the beach as a souvenir, you’d better make sure if it is allowed or not. In many places of the world, it is illegal to take even a bit of sand. If everyone took a handful every time they visited the beach, there would be no beach in a few million years. Scientists say that the sand supplies on our planet are depleting at a very fast pace.
The human population on our planet is increasing, and so is the resource requirement to sustain that many people. Thousands of buildings that house our population, the asphalt roads, electronics, glass manufacturing, gas, and oil refining, all these industries require insane amounts of sand to keep up with the production requirements. Sand is a mineral resource that is not hard to extract, thus making it perfect for all kinds of production. The only problem is that our planet does not have infinite amounts of it.
Sand theft happens in almost all parts of the world, and it can be as severe as an entire stretch of a beach disappearing into nothing. Even when it’s legal, sand mining results in bank erosion and river degradation. In the developing world, powerful groups supported by international businesses continue to mine sand illegally, and now they are known as the Sand mafia. Even the local authorities are unable to put them to a stop.
The journal Science published a report on the environmental effects of excessive sand mining that read,
“Rapid urban expansion is the main driver of increasing sand appropriation…Sand and scarcity is an emerging issue with major socio-political, economic, and environmental implications. In Sri Lanka, extensive sand mining exacerbated the impacts of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The high profits generated by sand trade often lead to social and political conflicts, including violence, rampant illegal extraction and trade, and political tensions between nations.”
The environment is being affected by our needs of almost all resources, may it be the fossil fuels, minerals, or sand. There is only a finite amount of everything, and we can say goodbye to many industries once we run out of our resources. Do note that this process has already started!
The Club of Rome published a report while analyzing the mineral depletion that states,
“Extraction is becoming more and more difficult as the easy ores are depleted. More energy is needed to maintain past production rates, and even more, is needed to increase them. The production of many mineral commodities appears to be on the verge of decline… We may be going through a century-long cycle that will lead to the disappearance of mining as we know it.”
Despite the global efforts, many continue to deny the reality of climate change, and sand depletion is yet another issue that needs to be addressed on both local and global forums in all parts of the world.