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How unsustainable sand mining impacts the environment

How unsustainable sand mining impacts the environment

Sand is an essential commodity in modern society, even though you may not be aware of it. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), sand is the most important commodity in the modern world. Second most-used natural resourcesAfter water. Sand is a key component in cement, asphalt, and glass. It plays an important role in every aspect our lives, from infrastructure and roads to personal electronic devices.

However, there are many differences in mining regulations and practices across countries, making it difficult to keep an eye on global sand resources. Sand is already available in some parts of the globe. One of the least controlled natural resources. If it is not extracted and used sustainably we will continue to HarmonizeThese ecosystems can pollute and even force thousands of people to flee their homes.

Increasing Sand Demand

Sand can be found almost everywhere on the planet. However, not all sand is used in the same way. Sand grains taken from coastlines and seabeds are more angular, which makes them easier to form concrete. Desert sand grains on the other hand are less angular. Too round and smoothMette Bendixen (Ph.D.), assistant professor in McGill University’s Department of Geography, Canada, said that the sand can be used in construction. Silica sand, a type silica sand, is used in the construction industry for glass, screen in electronic devices, and even solar panels.

The increasing population and rapid urbanization of the world has led to a rise in the demand for sand. TripledIn the last 20 years. Just imagine all the infrastructure and improvements we’ve made in the last 20 years.
The rapid technological advancements we have witnessed in this time frame are staggering. Bendixen says that our modern environments are made up mainly of sand.

Global consumption of sand & gravel is estimated at More than 40 billion metric tonssEach year, which is already higher than their natural renewal rates. In 2050, it is expected that there will be approximately 2.5 billion more peopleLiving in cities and other urban areas will increase the global demand for sand. Global shortages are not impossible based on how we use sand. Global sand scarcity is driven by the number of people who use sand for their buildings and infrastructure products., says Bendixen.

Although sand is scarce, some believe the world will never run out of it. However, it might become more expensive.

It is true that the modern world needs 20-40 times more sand-sized aggregate material to construct than all the world’s rivers carry to the ocean each year. However, the Earth’s natural systems have been producing sand for billions of generations, according to Zachary T. Sickmann, Ph.D., Richard T. Buffler
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Texas Institute for Geophysics
. There are many sand deposits available to build upon for the future of human civilization. The question is, at what cost?

Environmental Cost of Sand Mining

Steel is made from steel ore, lumber derived from trees, and oil pumped from underground wells. But, the majority of the work and refining for it is done by nature. Sickmann says that sand can be used in its natural state after a little washing and size sorting. The cost of extraction is very affordable. The real cost of sand lies within the negative environmental and social externalities that are usually not included in the commodity.

Sand generally FormulaireThe sediment is formed when the erosion of the surface rocks causes it to be eroded. Then, rain washes away the sediment and creates rivers and streams that transport it to the coast. Think of the sediment.
Sickmann describes the dispersal system as a conveyor chain. Some sediment will flow out of the conveyor belt along the way, but some will remain active in the transport phase as they travel to the coast, such as river sandbars and beaches.

It is certainly a good idea to mine the sand that is still on the conveyor belt. The sand is at the surface and often un-vegetated. It’s also pre-washed. [it]Sickmann states that concrete typically has a good distribution of grain size. It can replenish itself every year, and it seems endless from the perspective of one mining site.

However, this could eventually disrupt the entire dispersal process. Mining sand from point A results in less sand being carried to points B or C downstream. If other points were also mined, eventually there would be no more sand to supply the points X, Y and Z. Here’s the problem.

Sickmann says it’s a simple equation of mass balance. The energy of flowing water in a river can carry some amount of sand. If the river does not have the natural resources to replenish the sand mass, it will erode the area around it until it is gone. The mining of sand may lead to channel degradation and land erosion in areas where infrastructure or natural habitats are not available. DisruptedEven those far from the mine points.

Bendixen says that sand mining in China’s Pearl River lowers the water table and causes riverbed scour to increase, making it more difficult to extract drinking water. It also damages infrastructure such as bridges and embankments. Nearly half a million Vietnamese have to be relocated after their homes and rice farms fall into the Mekong River.

The removal of sand from riversbeds and coastlines can also pose a threat to biodiversity. DestroyingNesting and breeding habitats ReduceProtection against extreme weather events, such as storm surges or floods. The negative effects of sand extraction on the ecosystems and human health are evident, causing great economic and social harm.

Potential Solutions

Sand is a natural resource that must be mined and used sustainably. But, there are very few cheap sand options available without high social and environmental costs. It is impossible to stop all mining, given how dependent we are on it. To meet the growing global demand for sand without causing damage to the environment, it is essential to closely monitor and regulate its use. necessary.

Sickmann suggests that the solution is to find more sustainable options. But this is much more difficult than it sounds when it comes to sand. Although the energy sector has many options, such as solar, wind, or nuclear, to transition us away reliance on fossil fuels to the future, there isn’t yet a clear path to move away natural sand.

Bendixen and her coworkers ProposeThe use of sand from Greenland melting ice sheetThis is due to climate change to meet global demands. It is likely that there will be a
Global warming will continue to cause a steady supply for years of sand. Technologies to make desert sand more usable and replace natural sand.
Crushed rock sand, rice
Husky ash
Or Recycled plasticThere are many other options that you can explore.

Because many materials are taken from demolished buildings, a circular economy approach may also be used. Recyclable.

Bendixen says that the problem is that there are currently no financial or political incentives to do this. This is the biggest overload global challenge we face right now, and there are no quick fixes.

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