A recent report released by the United Nations (UN) warns that if humans keep exploiting sand as irresponsibly as they are, the world will enter a “Sand crisis” soon. Sand is one of the most exploited natural resources in the world, second only to water.
Sand is a key ingredient in building and infrastructure construction, so it is no surprise that it is one of the most demanded natural resources on earth.
More concretely, around 50 billion tonnes of sand and gravel are consumed by humans annually. This is enough to build a 27-meter wide and 27-meter high ring around the earth.
The problem with the heavy exploitation of this natural resource is that, unlike many other highly exploited resources, i.e., water, sand isn’t recognized as a strategic resource. This means that people tend to be as careless as they want with sand, and there are no regulations to stop them from wasting this resource.
Sand is replenishing at a much slower rate than it is being consumed worldwide. The UN report emphasizes that we need to urgently change our relationship with sand, or we will soon find ourselves in a sand shortage crisis.
This is especially because the human population is only expected to grow further and further in the coming years, and as a result, urbanization will rise as well. This will ramp up the demand for sand even more in the coming years. This means we can expect even more sand extraction projects to begin.
This will bring about its own set of problems for the environment, including things like erosion, natural scenery destruction, destruction of ecosystems, and more.
On this end, the report argues that we need to start recognizing sand as a strategic resource and regulate how it is distributed and used throughout the world. Additionally, it encourages the use of alternative materials, i.e., crushed rocks, to be used for building infrastructure.
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