Sand, an endangered natural resource
Today, 75% to 90% of the world’s natural sand beaches are disappearing. Maybe soon, the paradisiacal beaches synonymous with holidays for all of us, will be old memory. This fenomen is mainly due to rising sea levels and increased storm action, but also to massive erosion caused by the human development of shores. Many low-lying barrier islands are already submerged.
How is used the sand in the world?
Since 1900, this natural resource has been increasingly used, both in the construction industry for the manufacture of concrete, as well as for the realization of roads and glass. It is also used for silicon dioxide the main constituent of sedimentary rocks: sand, sandstone, which is added to wine, laundry, etc. Due to its low cost, sand is one of the world’s most widely used natural resources. In 2010, eleven billion tons of sand were extracted for the construction sector!
Scientists estimate that 75 to 90% of beaches could disappear in the next years! Already 25 islands of Indonesia have disappeared following the development of Singapore’s infrastructure. For the construction of the island “The Palm” in Dubai, 150 million tons of sand were needed! For a motorway, 30,000 tons of sand are essential for every kilometer built, for a hospital it is necessary to count 3,000 tons, and for a nuclear power plant 12 million tons! Each year, 15 billion tons of this resource is used in the world, including 75 million tons of marine sand extracted from beaches.
Why is desert sand not used for construction? The desert sand grains are finer and smoother so their surface chemistry would not be able to offer sufficient number of multi-directional chemical linkages so this is why now industrialists draw the sand from the seabed. But sand is a non-renewable resource it needs tens or even hundreds of thousands of years to build, and this intensive extraction threatens the ecosystem because it devastates the natural habitat of fish and survival of all species that depend on it.
So it’s time to sound the alarm and demand states to regulate the extraction of sand before it eventually disappears!