Tags: Climate Change | Global Warming | sand | aggregate | gravel | beach erosion

World Running Low on Sand

World Running Low on Sand
(AP Photo/John Antczak)

Tuesday, 23 May 2017 05:08 PM

The world is suddenly discovering we are running out of sand, according to the New Yorker.

Sand, known as "aggregate" in the industrial world and includes gravel, crushed stone, and various recycled materials, is the world's second most heavily exploited natural resource, after water, "and for many uses, the right kind is scarce or inaccessible," the New Yorker's David Owen wrote.

Owen points to a 2014 United Nations Environment Program report, "Sand, Rarer Than One Thinks," that concluded the mining of sand and gravel "greatly exceeds natural renewal rates" and "the amount being mined is increasing exponentially, mainly as a result of rapid economic growth in Asia."

In the United States, the fastest-growing uses include the fortification of shorelines eroded by rising sea levels and more and more powerful ocean storms, Owen reported.

But many barrier islands are densely covered with houses — the biggest and the most expensive of which often have the greatest exposure to ocean storms, he noted.

"The rapid growth in construction has been driven by lax land-use ordinances, below-market flood-insurance rates, the indomitability of the human spirit, and, mainly, the willingness of Congress to cover much of the cost when the inevitable occurs," Robert Young, a geology professor at Western Carolina University, in North Carolina, told the magazine.

"The Feds have poured in money over and over," he added. "Folks will say to me, 'Gosh, Robert, people must be crazy to rebuild their roads and homes again and again, after all the storms,' and my answer is 'No, they're making a perfectly rational economic decision. We're the crazy ones, because we're paying for it.'"

In their natural state, barrier islands need storms, Young added.

"Think of the undeveloped portions of Fire Island," he told the magazine. "No one talks about beach erosion there, because in storms the beach doesn't disappear — it just rolls landward.

"A storm will take sand from the front and blow it on top and across, and the island will grow on the back side. Barrier islands are dynamic systems, and they actually need storms, because plants and animals indigenous to the islands are adapted to them."

According to Owen, "the problems start when people begin to think of mutable landforms as permanent property."

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The world is suddenly discovering we are running out of sand, according to the New Yorker.
sand, aggregate, gravel, beach erosion
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 05:08 PM
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