As surfers we love our sandy beaches. We love the squish and slide that only millions of sand granules beneath our feet can give. It’s our red carpet to the waves. But our beaches could be gone by the end of the century!
Humans have taken a toll on our planet’s oceans and beaches. Ocean plastic pollution is set to treble in the next decade, over 2,000 marine species are listed in the Endangered Species Act and that’s before we talk about oil spills, lost sea cargo, discarded fishing nets or sewage.
These are well documented environmental issues but there’s another potential environmental disaster that few have even heard about: sand scarcity.
Sand is currently the 2nd most extracted natural resource after water, we extract about 40 billion tons each year globally. The demand for sand has increased by 360% in the last three decades and the No.1 reason for that is the boom in construction. Every concrete structure and every mile of highway requires a massive amount of sand and not just any sand, marine sand.Desert sand grains are too round and therefore inadequate for construction, while marine sand has a more angular structure which facilitates stabilization. This is why, for example, the desert state of Dubai had to import sand from Australia to build the Burj Khalifa.
Unfortunately, sand is not an unlimited resource and this excessive extraction has already made an impact on our beaches. The BBC reports beaches have eroded on average 40m from 1968 to 2008. In Indonesia 24 islands have already disappeared due erosion caused by illegal sand mining.
If we want to enjoy the beach, go surfing and build sand castles things have to change. There are already some substitutes for sand but further alternatives still have to be developed. In the meantime, we can raise awareness and encourage change.
To find out more read the infographic below or visit Trade Machines.