Can billions and billions of grains of sand be reduced!
The Burj Khalifa (828 meters high), currently the tallest building in the world in Dubai, is visited by tourists who are given interesting and important facts about its construction.
One of them is that 330,000 cubic meters of concrete made of sand was used in its construction. Should the UAE be rich in sand because it is surrounded by a desert? is that correct?
No, that’s wrong.
The UAE actually imports sand, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, an organization that collects international trade data at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Yes, a country with an entire desert area has to import sand.
The vast amount of sand available in the emirate is not suitable for construction. The sand used for the Burj Khalifa was imported from Australia.
It seems that there is an infinite amount of sand in the world, so it would seem strange that there is going to be a sand shortage crisis in the world. Experts see that sand is becoming scarce.
Where will the new sand come from?
In addition to making concrete, sand is also used as a raw material in many other products. For example, hot sand particles are also used to make glass. Water treatment plants also use sand to separate densities.
Different types of sand are used as key raw materials in many products. For example, laundry soda, cosmetics, toothpaste, solar panels and silicone chips. Journalist Vince Baiser, author of the recently published book, The World in a Green: The Story of Sand and How to Transform Civilization, says that our world is “made entirely of sand.”
Baiser has written several articles on the subject of sand, including information on the black market for sand.
According to his research, there are some countries like Morocco where illegal sand mining takes place which is used in large quantities in the world’s industry.
There are statistics in many countries that people are being arrested, tortured or even killed in some places because of the sand. However, the amount of sand extracted is still increasing, which will pay a heavy price for the planet and its inhabitants in the future.
The biggest reason for the use of sand is the increase in urban construction. According to the United Nations, by 2050, the world’s urban population will increase from 54% to 66%. In 1950, 75 million people lived in urban areas, but the population is now about four billion.
Concerns are now being raised that the demand for these infinite particles may increase so much that they may become scarce.
According to a conservative estimate from a 2014 report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the annual use of sand in construction projects worldwide is currently 40 billion tons. Which is a warning about the constant supply of sand.
Currently, the second most widely used raw material in the world after water is sand. According to this report, the amount of sand being used is not being obtained from new sources.
Achieving such a large amount of sand is not possible without greatly affecting the diversity of biological systems, the nature of water and groundwater. Then the acquisition will bring about changes in the social, economic, cultural and political conditions.
In many places, such as India, gangs have sprung up to extract sand illegally and crush opponents by force.
Indian officials have been accused of failing to help exploited workers in the sand mining industry.
Billions of dollars in business
There is a simple reason to extract sand illegally and that is that it is very profitable.
According to experts compiling UN trade data, the global sand trade is currently worth 70 70 billion, and the price of sand worldwide has increased sixfold in the last 25 years. Countries like China and Singapore are not getting as much sand as they need.
We generally see that there is an unlimited amount of sand on every beach so we do not think that there will ever be a shortage of sand even if we consider the environmental and human impact of the sand extraction process.
“Especially in an environment where the cost of extracting sand is very low and access is unlimited,” says Aurora Torres, an environmentalist at the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity.
Singapore is currently the largest importer of sand. This is because of its four-decade-long policy of extracting land from the sea, during which construction has been extensive, at about 130 square kilometers.
Singapore has construction projects despite sand exports being suspended by neighboring countries. Objections to the suspension of sand exports from these countries range from the environmental impact to the political impact of shipping routes and border disputes.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey and the International Cement Review, China used concrete (obviously sand too) during the mass construction period of 2011-13, the most used during the last century of U.S. construction. It was more than sand. However, the world’s second-largest economy has raised the bar.
China has built and acquired new Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the sovereignty of these islands is also disputed, China claims its sovereignty over these islands.
This means that countries can now actually change their borders. China has built the world’s largest flat of large dredges. According to Baizer, “this means that China has the potential to create a new island by collecting more soil in the sea than any other country.”
But such extraction of sand can have very dramatic effects. Indonesian officials say such extraction or mining has caused erosion and the island has gradually disappeared.
More mining also increases the risk of flooding in coastal and riverine areas, especially when the water level is rising.
In an article published in the journal Science, Aurora Tours and co-researchers say they have found evidence that the 2004 tsunami was more severe in Sri Lanka, with sand being removed from its shores. Was The tsunami killed 30,000 people in Sri Lanka alone.
Boats on the street in Sri Lanka after the tsunami
, Image source GETTY IMAGES
, Photo caption
Experts say the 2004 tsunami caused more damage to Sri Lankan shores due to sand mining.
But ironically, post-tsunami reconstruction efforts have greatly increased the demand for sand.
The erosion that occurs due to the extraction of sand and the visible erosion also poses a risk of water and food shortages. Torres says this could result in fewer fish and lower farmland quality.
He cited the Mekong Delta of Vietnam as the largest food source region in Southeast Asia. Due to over-mining in the region, saltwater seawater seeps into the ground during the dry season.
“It disrupts the drinking water supply, and arable lands are affected by beans and sorghum, which has a direct impact on production,” he said. If sand is extracted, the chances of spreading diseases increase. The extraction of sand from rivers in Iran has created stagnant ponds in deep-water areas, breeding grounds for mosquitoes and increasing the risk of malaria.
The scarcity of animals and plants has also had a detrimental effect on the diversity of ecosystems. In Brazil, sand mining has reached dense forests near Rio de Janeiro and is being blamed for damage to the Amazon rainforest.
And the US state of California, which is famous for swimming and surfing on the beaches, has been eroded by sand mining and mining. Scientists fear that erosion and climate change may prevent 70 percent of California’s beaches from being as they are by 2100.
The US city of Houston was devastated by the floods of August 2017, but the destruction was exacerbated by the removal of sand from the San Jacinto River.
One of the reasons for the collapse of the 2001 River de Auro Bridge in Portugal is said to be the extraction of sand. The crash killed 59 people.
“I don’t think anyone can say when the world will run out of sand, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about it because it’s infinite,” says Aurora Tours. We need to do more research on the process of sand extraction so that we can find as many answers to our questions about the effects of sand extraction.
“However, we do have enough evidence at the moment to say that we must do something to protect the environment.”