FFS, Now We’re Running Out of Sand

Sorry, but this kind of sand just won't do.Hollandse-Hoogte via ZUMA

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We are running out of sand. No, really, and here’s a chart to prove it:

Now wait a second. The Sahara Desert is brimming with sand. Why can’t we use that?

Desert sand grains are too smooth to be useful, and most of the angular sand that is suitable for industry comes from rivers (less than 1% of the world’s land). This extraction of sand and gravel has far-reaching impacts on ecology, infrastructure and the livelihoods of the 3 billion people who live along rivers.

Huh. How about that?

Current estimates of global sand mining are unreliable and undoubtedly too low….There are few long-term, basin-wide programmes monitoring sediment. It is technically hard to quantify how sand moves or is deposited along rivers….In many countries, sand mining is unregulated and might involve local ‘sand mafias’….In the Mekong delta, the Vietnamese government estimates that nearly 500,000 people will need to be moved away from river banks that are collapsing as a result of sand mining in the channel.

Click the link if you want to read more about what we can do to support a sustainable, eco-friendly sand industry.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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