2 January 2014

Dams and Demand for Sand Threaten World Beaches

Posted by John Freeland

Picture max & dad lake erie

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.