Sand Scarcity

Email from a reader: Hello, my name is Molly and I am writing you because I would like to suggest a content piece for the Natural Building Blog. Building natural homes instead of using concrete is extremely important because we are running out of sand. The demand for sand has grown by 360% in the past 30 years and continues to do so, mostly due to the construction industry. By now, sand is the 2nd most extracted resource on Earth, over 40 billion tons are extracted every single year globally.

This has severe consequences:
-In Indonesia, 24 islands have already disappeared
-9 out of 10 beaches in Florida are fading away
-The natural habitat of several marine species is being destroyed
-Sand has become so valuable that the black market is booming and the sand mafia is mining sand at all costs.

All beaches will be gone by 2100 if we keep depleting our resources at this speed. How is this possible? This infographic my team and I recently created explains it all:
Best regards, Molly

I had a video in my queue for many months on this topic called India’s Sand Mafia: The Dark Secrets of India’s Booming Construction Industry
I deleted it from my list because I prefer to focus on positive solutions. But I decided to run this story because you wrote me and put so much work into this. (I mentioned this topic back during the Jovoto housing competition where someone attacked me as being alarmist or whatever. It’s not fun talking about these things, but at the same time the world is falling apart and sometimes we have to face the facts.)

2 thoughts on “Sand Scarcity”

  1. I believe this! Even in Ghana, I’ve seen sand prices jump to 2-3 times what they used to be (aside from inflation). This is partly due to the demand – people are building more with cement and tipper truck drivers know they can get higher prices for this commodity, but it’s also because they have to go deeper into the bush to get it.

    We even have water challenges in the main northern city because of all the sediment that sand winnowing kicks up. It was burning out the water filtration and purification system for the river water that’s drawn out and used to supply this town and many other nearby towns. The army even set 14 tipper trucks on fire because they refused to comply with a cease and desist order. It’s calmed down now with the onset of the rains, but it gets worse every year.

  2. Check out the infographic. It’s incredible what is going on. According to them, the sand mafia is the biggest criminal organization in India. Just one creek has 75,000 illegal sand miners!


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