2 January 2014
Dams and Demand for Sand Threaten World Beaches
Posted by John Freeland
Documentary filmmaker Denis Delestrac has recently completed the movie Sand Wars, which looks at the intense demand for what may seem like an abundant natural resource. In some cases worldwide, the sand business has taken on a dangerous criminal dimension.
In a TedxBarcelona Talk called Let’s talk about sand, Delestrac introduces the complex subject of beach sand, including erosion and exploitation, with style and charisma. There are also some good aerial images, video clips and diagrams embedded in the talk. I especially liked the video describing how offshore sand dredging depletes sand from a distant beach.
Worth noting, Delestrac’s talk does not address sand used for hydraulic fracturing. By far, the construction of buildings, roads, and other infrastructure comprise the biggest use for sand, although the wide variety of products requiring sand is, perhaps, surprising. I’m not aware of any “frac sand” sand currently mined from beaches. Rather, the frac-quality quartzose sand with well-rounded grains is mostly mined form sandstone formations in the central United States.
“Sand Wars” and “Let’s talk about sand” came to my attention by way of the website Coastal Care.
My husband, Orville Magoon, has spent his life building breakwaters (He was responsible for the reinforcement of the Humboldt jetties, which have been solid for years, and predicted the failure of Sinez, due to lack of reinforcement) and also fighting for “Sand Rights” as well as the source of failures and “How Safe is Safe”. You can find him easily on internet. He would be very interested in your work on erosion and sediment and would love to meet with you (Are you ever in the San Francisco bay area?).
Hi Karen: Thanks for the kind note. Your husband, Orville, has indeed made a powerful contribution to our understanding of coastal processes. The Orville T. Magoon Sustainable Coasts Award is a tribute to the man and his career. Good luck with your music, Karen. I expect, between the two of you, discussions of waves, rhythm, tides, and harmony can get pretty interesting. All the best, John
Interesting, I will take a look at the movie. I know sand is a huge deal with beach front property here in Southern California. For example after the creation of many harbors on the coast the housing communities to the south tend to suffer from a lack of sand and thereby increased flood danger.
Ok after doing some research I am quite disappointed that the film website doesn’t even have a link to purchase the film. I actually only found one website that sells the film (as a download) store.payloadz.com, really quite frustrating and strange for a film to be promoted that cannot be accessed easily.
Brian: thanks for the note. Apparently, the film is licensed for distribution in 28 countries, but not yet in the United States. Hopefully, we’ll get it here soon.
Good news, Green Planet Films is now distributing Sand Wars in the US to the educational market. Ask your local public library to purchase it. http://www.greenplanetfilms.org/product/sand-wars/
Also, the UNEP wrote a 15 page report on the sand situation after seeing the film on TV in France. http://coastalcare.org/2014/04/a-un-report-on-sand-mining-sand-rarer-than-one-thinks/
Thanks for the update. That’s great news and hopefully our public library can afford it. Meanwhile, I’ll check out the UNEP report.