“MOST Westerners facing criminal charges in Cambodia would be thanking their lucky stars at finding themselves safe in another country. But Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, who is half British and half Spanish, is pleading with the Phnom Penh government to allow him back to stand trial along with three Cambodian colleagues. They’ve been charged, essentially, with interfering with the harvesting of one of the 21st century’s most valuable resources: sand.
Believe it or not, we use more of this natural resource than any other except water and air. Sand is the thing modern cities are made of. Pretty much every apartment block, office tower and shopping mall from Beijing to Lagos, Nigeria, is made at least partly with concrete, which is basically just sand and gravel stuck together with cement. Every yard of asphalt road that connects all those buildings is also made with sand. So is every window in every one of those buildings.
Sand is the essential ingredient that makes modern life possible. And we are starting to run out.”
Not many comments yet on this article, but the few I reviewed are excellent, such as:
“Nearly a fifty years ago, MIT scientists released a computer-modeled study that was published, to great acclaim and controversy, as “Limits to Growth,” predicting a collapse of industrial civilization in the first half of the 21st century. The collapse would be caused, according to their forecast, by growth — in the economy, in population, in pollution, in consumption of finite resources. The depletion of sand described by Mr. Beiser here is yet another sign that those limits to growth have been reached — indeed, surpassed. Where is the leadership humanity needs to reverse our suicidal trajectory of growth, growth, growth? As the environmentalist Edward Abbey put it, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” “