When the nail sticks out

rants, raves and randomness

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec

Most of us, when we think of vacations, we imagine the beach, the sea, the sun..and sand.

The Sand wars by Denis Delestrac : Sand is more than just beaches and holidays

The Sand wars by Denis Delestrac : Sand is more than just beaches and holidays. Image from the internet.

What most people don’t realize is that sand plays an important role in our daily lives – not just when we’re on vacation.

Sand in our everyday life

Sand is used in making glass

and microchips.

It is used to manufacture bricks,

mortar,

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Mortar

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Mortar. Image from Wo Are Builder Supply.

cement,

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Sand is used in making mortar

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Sand is used in making cement. Image from The ‘Word Thoughts’ Blog.

concrete,

plaster,

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Using sand for plaster

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Using sand for plaster. Image from the internet.

and paints.It is used in sand casting,

in sandblasting

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrac : Sandblasting. Image from tntmetals.com

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrac : Sandblasting. Image from tntmetals.com

and etching.

It is an important ingredient in building the very houses we live in,

Image

Sand wars by Denis Delestrac : Our houses possible, thanks to sand. Image from the internet.

and the buildings where we work.It is used in airports, hospitals, schools, pavements, roads and yes, you guessed it-  even artificial islands.

Image

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrac : The Palm Islands, made of sand. Image from Wikipedia.

At home, it can even be used to filter water.

Sand has a significant value to society. Children play in it, vacationers relax on it, and the general population relies on products made or derived from it. Sand, It’s Not Just For Beaches < http://www.rogersgroupincint.com/ IndustryResources/ Rockology101Learning/ SandItsNotJustForBeaches / tabid/101/Default.aspx%20 >

Haven’t you ever stopped to marvel at the uses of sand? Surely, it deserves our attention-and not just when we’re lounging on the beach in our bikinis.

 

Sand shortage

When we go to the beach, we see an abundance of sand, it’s hard to imagine that it can actually run out. Well, I have news for you : we are running out of sand.

 

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Sand shortage stalls building projects in Chennai by the Hindu. Image from the Hindu.

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Sand shortage stalls building projects in Chennai by the Hindu. Image from the Hindu.

Sand shortage stalls building projects in Chennai

Inadequate supply of river sand has hit construction activity in the city over the past two months.

The domino effect of increased demand and subsequent price hike, along with dwindling supply, has stalled several residential projects, put builders and buyers in a fix over deadlines and is even threatening to impact government projects. There seems to be no immediate alternative in sight, though M-sand (manufactured sand) is being used by a few customers. Source : The Hindu

 

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Saudis 'fear sand shortage' by BBC. Image from BBC

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Saudis ‘fear sand shortage’ by BBC. Image from BBC

Saudi Arabia has reportedly imposed strict border checks to enforce a ban on the export of sand.

There are fears that the growing demands of the construction industry could lead to a shortage in the desert kingdom. Source: BBC

 

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Florida beaches running out of sand by The Dailymail. Image from The Dailymail

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Florida running out of beach by The Dailymail. Image from The Dailymail

Florida is running out of SAND: Officials squabble over dwindling supply in fight to re-fill their tourist beaches

Florida’s sand stash has almost dried up.
Faced with a very short supply of sand after decades of erosion and replenishment projects, Florida officials are looking into multiple plans to replenish the offshore sand supplies relied on until now.
Sand mines, recycled glass and importing the grainy gold are some of the options being considered, according to the New York Times. Source : The Dailymail

Fact: “Sand is not a sustainable resource.”

Annual consumption of sand adds up to 15,000,000,000 (15 billion) tons. After air and water, it is our most used commodity. – The Sand Wars

Globally, between 47 and 59 billion tonnes of material is mined every year (Steinberger et al., 2010), of which sand and gravel, hereafter known as aggregates, account for both the largest share (from 68% to 85%) and the fastest extraction increase (Krausmann et al., 2009). Surprisingly, although more sand and gravel are mined than any other material, reliable data on their extraction in certain developed countries are available only for recent years (Krausmann et al., 2009). The absence of global data on aggregates mining makes environmental assessment very difficult and has contributed to the lack of awareness about this issue.

One way to estimate the global use of aggregates indirectly is through the production of cement for concrete (concrete is made with cement, water, sand and gravel). The production of cement is reported by 150 countries and reached 3.7 billion tonnes in 2012 (USGS, 2013a). For each tonne of cement, the building industry needs about six to seven times more tonnes of sand and gravel (USGS, 2013b). Thus, the world’s use of aggregates for concrete can be estimated at 25.9 billion to 29.6 billion tonnes a year for 2012 alone. This represents enough concrete to build a wall 27 metres high by 27 metres wide around the equator.

< http://www.unep.org/pdf/UNEP_GEAS_March_2014.pdf >

Where do all the sand come from?

Sand was until recently extracted in land quarries and riverbeds; however, a shift to marine and coastal aggregates mining has occurred due to the decline of inland resources. River and marine aggregates remain the main sources for building and land reclamation. < http://www.unep.org/pdf/UNEP_GEAS_March_2014.pdf >

Sand mining is a practice that is used to extract sand, mainly through an open pit. However, sand is also mined from beaches, inland dunes and dredged from ocean beds and river beds.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_mining >

Most sand we now use comes from beneath the ocean and is obtained with dredgers. A single dredger can displace 4,000—400,000 square meters of sand. Given the very high cost of these dredgers, companies can only begin to make money when they have a fleet—and this in turn means that the sand that is taken from the world’s oceans is in the hands of a few dredging companies. < https://theurbaneecologist.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/sand-wars/ >

 

The End of Sand

There is so much talk about the whaling..

Image

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Everyone mourns the whales. But no one mourns the disappearance of sand. Image from Wikipedia.

or the disappearance of bees and snow leopards. There is also much concern about taps running dry..

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Before The Taps Runs Dry by the  Texas Water Resource Institute. Image from the  Texas Water Resource Institute

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Before The Taps Runs Dry by the Texas Water Resource Institute. Image from the Texas Water Resource Institute

and the end of oil..and rightly so..

but how come there’s not much talk about the end of sand ?

 

“People talk about the end of oil. But no one talks about the end of sand.”

– The Sand Wars

It’s easy to take for granted that which lies beneath our feet. Why, we’re walking all over it.

Excessive instream sand-and-gravel mining causes the degradation of rivers. Instream mining lowers the stream bottom, which may lead to bank erosion. Depletion of sand in the streambed and along coastal areas causes the deepening of rivers and estuaries, and the enlargement of river mouths and coastal inlets. It may also lead to saline-water intrusion from the nearby sea. The effect of mining is compounded by the effect of sea level rise. Any volume of sand exported from streambeds and coastal areas is a loss to the system. < http://threeissues.sdsu.edu/three_issues_sandminingfacts01.html >

Islands in Indonesia have borne many of the consequences of sand dredging. When dredging occurs near coastlines, it damages them irreparably. The missing sand from below the ocean floor collapses, leading to land above the water sinking. This is particularly terrifying for island communities.  <https://theurbaneecologist.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/sand-wars/ >

Fact: 24 Indonesia’s islands have already disappeared beneath the ocean

http://video.godsdirectcontact.org.tw/sea-level-rise/?wr_id=601&page=2 >

And more islands may disappear..

Sand is our natural barrier. It protects the earth and the land. Remove it and the waves are going to hit the land. The erosions are  going to be more dramatic. – Denis Delestrec

Removal of physical coastal barriers such as dunes leads to flooding of beachside communities, and the destruction of picturesque beaches causes tourism to dissipate.<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_mining >

Sand mining is washing away our shorelines.

“Islands exist by a natural conspiracy,” says Welland. Waves, wind, currents, gravity, and other factors have to align in a particular set of conditions to allow the formation of an island. Thus, once the sand is dredged up below an island and its coastline begins to collapse, there is no way to fix the problem. And once a coastline collapses, boundaries change—making sand a geopolitical issue. <https://theurbaneecologist.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/sand-wars/ >

Not only that, it also has a negative impact on our biodiversity.

Sand on the sea floor is covered with a thin layer of sand and is mostly rocky. So if you take sand, there is a lot of ecological and biological consequences. All the microorganisms live there. If you take sand, you affect these organisms. – Denis Delestrec

For example, sea turtles depend on sandy beaches for their nesting, and sand mining has led to the near extinction of gharials (a species of crocodiles) in India. Disturbance of underwater and coastal sand causes turbidity in the water, which is harmful for such organisms as corals that need sunlight. It also destroys fisheries, causing problems for people who rely on fishing for their livelihoods. Removal of physical coastal barriers such as dunes leads to flooding of beachside communities, and the destruction of picturesque beaches causes tourism to dissipate. Sand mining is regulated by law in many places, but is still often done illegally. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_mining >

Here is the a table showing how sand mining impacts us in different ways.

Sand, rarer than one thinks. Image from UNEP Global Environmental Alert Service (GEAS)

Sand, rarer than one thinks. Image from UNEP Global Environmental Alert Service (GEAS)

< http://www.unep.org/pdf/UNEP_GEAS_March_2014.pdf >

Fact : Sand mining is regulated by law in many places, but is still often done illegally.

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_mining >

Singapore is expanding – at the expense of other countries.

Singapore, one of the world’s most prosperous and fastest growing economies, is being accused of expanding its coastline with illegally dredged sand from neighboring states.

Singapore has been importing sand for years and its territory has increased by over 20% in the last half century, but sand imports are now threatening the regional ecosystem and harming its economy.

Professor Chou Loke Ming from the Biological Science Center of the National Institute of Singapore says, “We have been taking sand from our hills and then, when there are no more hills left, we have been dredging sand from sea beds, and now most of it is been imported from neighboring countries.” <http://coastalcare.org/2011/02/singapore-extends-its-coastlines-with-illegally-dredged-sand/&gt;

UAE is also notorious for importing sand, sand dredged from the sea floor.

Indeed, selling sand to the Arabs is now a reality.

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Sheikh to import 3,000 tons of sand from Lancashire by The Telegraph. Image from The Telegraph

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Sheikh to import 3,000 tons of sand from Lancashire by The Telegraph. Image from The Telegraph

But why can’t they use their own desert sand?

Answer : Desert sands are too smooth. They don’t stick together.

If sand particles, known as grains, are very smooth, their surface chemistry would not be able to offer sufficient number of multidirectional chemical linkages. Their size is small, the slurry would slip and the concrete would have poor strength. Where as ordinary constructional sand meets the required specificiations of size and surface character, desert sand does not. Desert sand grains are very fine-far less sized-and have smoother, nearly spherical-surfaces, owing to extended drought, dryness, hot conditions and mutual rubbings due to own and wind currends besides other drastic conditions. Source : Google Groups Forum.

 

The Sand Mafia

Illegal sand mining is new gold rush in India
Activists take a lead in the control of sand mining

Mumbai: At a time when the planet’s reserve of sand from its beaches is threatened by smuggling and illegal mining, environmentalists are asking India, as the present international custodian of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), to take a lead in the control of sand mining.

In their letter, they have pointed, “India [in spite of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification which bans sand mining in CRZ areas including in creeks and on beaches] continues to suffer the adverse effects on biodiversity of illegal sand mining, which is threatening the very existence of beaches and creeks.

Well-established mafias who control these activities do not hesitate to attack or kill public spirited individuals who interfere.” Source: Gulf News July 22, 2013

It is not only an environmental and geo-political issue, now it is also a socio-economic issue. It affects families, villages and communities.

Two killed for leaking sand smuggling informationTwo men who passed information about sand smuggling to the police and revenue officials were attacked with sickles and iron rods and brutally murdered by a group of smugglers at Avoor village in Pudukottai on Friday night.

The victims were identified as D Karthick (31), a lorry driver, and his bother D Rajesh (25) of Sengalakudi near Avoor.

It is said, Rajendran (30), a relative of the victims used to hoard sand and smuggle it from Kattaru village during night time. Both Karthick and Rajesh informed police about the illegal sand mining activities. Based on their information, police and revenue authorities conducted surprise raids in the village often and they had fined Rajendran on several occasions. Sources said, it led to an enmity between the siblings and Rajendran. Source : New Indian Express

The small scale smuggling may be perpetuated by individuals,

while the large ones are backed by the sand mafia…

Now sand mining is taking its toll everywhere..

Sand mining takes its toll on pristine Inanda valley

Construction company JT Ross has built its Riverside Business Park in Durban with rock gouged out illegally from a mountainside in the scenic Inanda valley. The eyesore sits adjacent to a hiking trail centre that the eThekwini Metro is building to pull day-tourists back to this impoverished area on the northern banks of Inanda Dam. It is the first leg of a bigger plan to create a “green corridor” along the Umgeni River.

But the Emkhubane community, located in the vicinity of the Shembe Church headquarters, is concerned that private interests are making profits at their expense, while the ugly scars of sand mining diminish the area’s ecotourism appeal. Source :IOL September 15, 2010

Forest suffers as sand mining takes toll. Image from IOL

Forest suffers as sand mining takes toll in Wakiso District, Central Uganda. Image from IOL

Forest suffers as sand mining takes toll

Environmentalists have raised the red flag on the continuous sand mining at Kyewaga central forest reserve near Kitinda Resort Beach located 10 kilometres off Entebbe Road in Wakiso District.

The environmentalists warn that if nothing is done, the about 2009-hectare forest reserve may go extinct in a few years to come if nobody intervenes to halt the sand mining taking place in the area.

“They are mining sand to construct ponds and destabilise the soil, which ends up in the lake and causes silting,” Mr Sam Mugambi, an environmentalist, said. Source : The Daily Monitor

 

Every time we take sand from somewhere, nature will find ways to recuperate the sand it lost. Nature does this by eating up the shorelines, banks and even islands.

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : THREE ISSUES OF SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT IN THE OJOS NEGROS VALLEY,  BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO by threeissues.sdsu.edu

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : THREE ISSUES OF SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT IN THE OJOS NEGROS VALLEY, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO by threeissues.sdsu.edu

Illegal sand mining is not foreign to the Philippines either.

Black sand mining continues at night

GONZAGA, Philippines— At first glance, the processing plants that dot coastal communities in Cagayan province show no sign of activity, backing local officials’ claim that black sand mining has stopped.
But as night falls, residents are roused from their sleep as heavy machinery starts running, and Dugo-San Vicente Road becomes busy with dump trucks bringing processed magnetite to Port Irene inside the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport in Sta. Ana town.
“Many people here, especially those living on the roadsides, have been deprived of sleep because the dump trucks, about 200 of them, run at night,” said antimining advocate Esperlita Garcia.
Mining companies were using this new tack to evade detection by law enforcement agencies, mainly the National Bureau of Investigation, she said.
Since last year, the NBI has been raiding companies that operate illegally, seizing heavy equipment and arresting Chinese workers without valid working permits. Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

 

Extraction of black sand has allegedly been going on for years in northern Cagayan coast amid opposition from the Church and anti-mining advocates, who claimed that such activities would expose the residents and the ecosystem to massive floods and erosions… Source : http://www.CoastalCare.org

This is when you realize we are more connected than we [like to] believe.  UAE’s and Singapore’s rapid expansions come with a price. The question is, who wants to pay for it?

Solutions

Some beaches around the world are now undergoing “beach nourishment“- that is, replenishing eroding beaches with sand.

Beach nourishment is the process of dumping or pumping sand from elsewhere onto an eroding shoreline to create a new beach or to widen the existing beach. Beach nourishment does not stop erosion, it simply gives the erosional forces (usually waves) something else to “chew on” for awhile. The waves erode the nourished sand instead of destroying houses, roads or parking lots. Because nourishment doesn’t stop erosion, nourishment must be repeated to maintain the beach. This is called “beach renourishment”. It’s helpful to imagine that each nourishment project (i.e., an addition of a batch of sand) has a “lifetime”. The project’s lifetime is simply the time it takes for all the nourishment sand to be eroded away. After that time, the beach would be back to its pre-nourishment width, and would need to be renourished with sand. < http://www.brynmawr.edu/ geology/geomorph/ beachnourishmentinfo.html >

However, it is not a long term solution.

Other people suggest “recycling” the pulverized glass bottles by returning them to the sea.

Faced with the constant erosion of Florida’s beaches, Broward County officials are exploring using recycled glass — crushed into tiny grains and mixed with regular sand — to help fill gaps.

“Basically, what we’re doing is taking the material and returning it back to its natural state,” said Phil Bresee, Broward’s recycling manager.  <http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/22352 >

Others suggest changing the way we construct our houses, such as using straw to build our houses.

 Straw-bale construction is a building method that uses bales of straw (commonly wheat, rice, rye and oats straw) as structural elements, building insulation, or both. This construction method is commonly used in natural building or “brown” construction projects. Research has shown that straw-bale construction is a sustainable method for building, from the standpoint of both materials and energy needed for heating and cooling  < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw-bale_construction >

Or plastic bottles..

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Plastic Bottle Homes by Inspiration Green. Image from Inspiration Green

The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec : Plastic Bottle Homes by Inspiration Green. Image from Inspiration Green

Let’s keep ourselves informed. It can cost us much more than the beach we relax on.

After all, don’t you agree that sand deserves much more respect than it is getting?

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2 comments on “The Sand Wars by Denis Delestrec

  1. Joe America
    April 10, 2014

    Toss a grain of sand into the ocean, and you change the course of the universe.

    I had not thought about sand as a vital and scarce resource, but I can see clearly now that it is. I always wondered about cement, when are we going to run out of that? Or the iron that goes into the steel that makes the bars that goes into the cement that holds the house together in the blast of typhoons. I’m also aware that some sands are better than other at adhering to cement, thus Ormoc, Leyte, is the sand capital of our region for its sticky grey volcanic sand. It’s probably running out, too.

    Back to the caves . . .

    • ikalwewe
      April 13, 2014

      That was my first thought too.. And there I was thinking sand will last us for several lifetimes more.
      It amazes me how people can focus only what’s good temporarily, as if they have some other planet to escape to when mother nature comes back with a vengeance. In times like this, we are more intertwined than we like to believe, and we don’t know where each one’s actions (or when) they are going to be felt. Natural disasters don’t discriminate against anyone -aren’t these people the least bit worried?

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This entry was posted on April 8, 2014 by in For real?, politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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