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Special Report: The Deadly Global War for Sand

Humanosity says…Sand is a key ingredient in all kinds of things. It’s in concrete, in glass, in your cell phone. But there isn’t enough sand in the world for everyone, and we’re starting to run out. So people are stealing it, smuggling it, and getting killed over it. It is crisis few people are even aware of…..

Our editorial team has scoured the web and handpicked a selection of articles, videos and podcasts that detail the global crisis caused by the huge demand for sand and the devastating consequences it can have on ecosystems and human cost…..


He who controls the sand: the mining ‘mafias’ killing each other to build cities

Humanosity saysThis article looks at how the demand for sand for construction is devastating lives and ecosystems. Sand is one of the most precious commodities on the planet yet this is a problem few people are aware of. This article looks at the human cost…

In the dark of the night of 20 December, two Kenyan truck drivers met a blazing death. The men were loading up their vehicles at around 2am on the bank of the Muooni river, about 60 miles south-east of Nairobi, when a mob of local youths descended on them. The attackers torched the lorries, burning the drivers “beyond recognition”, police told a local newspaper. A third truck driver was shot with arrows.

Click here to read the full article at www.theguardian.com


The Hidden Environmental Cost of Mining Sand

The Hidden Environmental Toll of Mining the World’s Sand

Humanosity says…. Mining sand is the largest mining industry in the world. 85% of all the resources we extract from the ground is sand. Unfortunately, it is also the least regulated and perhaps the most corrupt and environmentally damaging endeavours. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the sand mining industry globally…..

When people think of environmental protests against the mining industry, I suspect the images that come to mind are of big open coal mines or of toxic runoff destroying local ecosystems. However, most of the mining undertaken around the world is about extracting sand. Like much of the mining industry, it is characterised by corruption, environmental degradation and death.

In recent years, as I have travelled the world looking at environmental issues, sand mining has kept appearing out of the corner of my eye. Always there, but rarely the main story. While in Kerala in August, researching the environmental factors behind recent floods, I found that sand is dredged from local rivers 40 times faster than the rivers can replace it. Riverbeds have been lowered by around 6 feet as a result.

Click here to read the full article at e360.yale.edu


The Truth Behind Stolen Beaches and Dredged Islands. The World is Running Out of Sand

Humanosity says….It’s hard to believe that sand is a precious commodity. Looking at the world’s deserts you’d think we had plenty of the stuff. However, that’s the wrong sand. The sand everyone wants is on our beaches and ocean floors and people have died for it. This great article goes into why we are running out of sand…..

For many people sand is a part of their escapist dreams. Paradise is a beach. I spent a memorable part of my youth hanging out at Paradise Beach Bar. There are websites dedicated to finding the perfect beach, that piece of pristine sand, often flanked by lush tropical plants.

According to the Guardian, the naturalist Desmond Morris reckons that as we are descended from water-loving apes, we are hard-wired to search out such locations and equate them with paradise.

Whilst his theories may not stand up to scientific scrutiny today it’s a good indication of the revered place sand has in most westerners minds. You only have to look at the myth of Lawrence of Arabia to see that even deserts, one of the toughest environments on the planet, aren’t immune from being romanticised.

When astronomers seek to impress upon us the size of the universe, they speak of stars being more numerous than grains of sand. There are quite a few grains, as it happens – 7.5 x 10 to the 18th power, according to researchers at the University of Hawaii. That’s 7 quintillions, 500 quadrillion – give or take the odd trillion.

You would think that such a mind-numbingly large number would mean that we have plenty of sand to go round. But the truth is not all sand is the same and the world is running out of the most useful types.

Click here to read the full article at www.theguardian.com


India’s Construction Boom is Fuelling Organised Crime

Humanosity says….The construction boom in India has led to the huge demand for sand. When the legal supplies run out criminals move in. This 24min film from Al Jazeera looks at the human cost…

As India continues to develop its economy, construction is booming. This means that demand for concrete has exploded and what few people realise is that this means demand for sand has also exploded. So much so that these days, sand is now almost as valuable as gold.

Like most countries experiencing a construction boom the problem is that most legal avenues for obtaining sand are massively oversubscribed. As a result, organised crime has stepped in to supply this demand, pillaging millions of tonnes of sand from the nation’s beaches, riverbeds and hillsides.

101 East follows the brave activists risking their lives in the fight to stop this lucrative black market trade.

Click here to watch the video at www.aljazeera.com


Have We Reached Peak Sand

Episode 853: Peak Sand

Humanosity says…This excellent podcast from NPR follows a sand detective on a quest to find a stolen beach. There’s a helicopter chase, death threats, even a little sand forensics. The Queen of England is involved. But stolen sand is very hard to find and even harder to get back.

Listen below or click on the link at the bottom of the page to go to the podcast homepage

Summary

A few years ago, an entire beach in a remote area of Jamaica vanished. Thieves dug up hundreds of tons of sand and hauled it away in dump trucks in the middle of the night. The sand–white, powdery, Caribbean sand–was worth about a million dollars.

It was an early sign that the world was facing a growing problem. Sand is a key ingredient in all kinds of things. It’s in concrete, in glass, in your cell phone. But there isn’t enough sand in the world for everyone, and we’re starting to run out. So people are stealing it, smuggling it, and getting killed over it.

Today on the show, we follow a sand detective on a quest to find a stolen beach. There’s a helicopter chase, death threats, even a little sand forensics. The Queen of England is involved. But stolen sand is very hard to find and even harder to get back.

Click here to listen to the podcast at www.npr.org

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