June 23, 2016

Here's a new thing to worry about.

We're using up the sand.

89 comments:

Brando said...

On the other hand, this gives the Saudis something to trade when their oil runs out.

viator said...

Oh no, peak sand!

Freeman Hunt said...

Give me a break. Good luck to them pushing that one.

Bob Ellison said...

Don't worry. Our sand needs will be over-supplied by the stupid reserves.

Eustace Chilke said...

When did the government take charge of the Sahara?

Gahrie said...

The Left will never be happy until we are all living in caves, living as gatherers (no hunting of course) and spending our evenings picking lice off each other.

Except for them of course...well somebody has to be in charge......

Freeman Hunt said...

Best to push a "We're running out!" crisis for things under the ground that people cannot see.

rehajm said...

Unfortunately NYT seems to have an unlimited supply of money...and stupidity.

Bob Boyd said...

We're using up all the things there are to worry about, leaving little for future generations.

bagoh20 said...

I thought we were building things today mostly out of pure bullshit. The supply seems endless at this point as we constantly discover new sources.

bagoh20 said...

Are we running out of things to run out of? It seems like it to me.

The Cracker Ethnocentrist said...

Worry about if you're insane. Which many liberals are.

The Drill SGT said...

Sand is of course being made every day...

And of course, sand could be recycled from concrete. won't that be cost effective :)

John Tuffnell said...

Leftists worry they wont be able to build sandcastles in the sky.

AJ Lynch said...

What's next accusing Republicans of waging Wars for Sand?

Unknown said...

Just go dip a bucket at the end of a long chain in the ocean somewhere. Dump it out, let it dry. Lots of prime grade stuff, and even sushi for the fishermen!

The day the oceans run out of dirt and/or sand is the day we are all dead, because the Sun will have consumed the earth.

--Vance

Bob Boyd said...

Clearly we need to regulate and tax America's craws.

tim maguire said...

They say only sand made by water, not by wind, is usable in concrete (thus rendering useless the desert sands) and that transportation costs mean the source needs to be no more than 25 miles from where it is being used (thus limiting the usefulness of beach sand).

Both of those things might be true, but I'd be surprised if either of those things needs to be true.

Fritz said...

Well, I stand up next to a mountain
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well, I stand up next to a mountain
Chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island
Might even raise just a little sand

TWW said...

Pound it.

Hagar said...

Crushed sand is not a substitute for proper gradation of the total aggregate when producing asphalt concrete, but it is perfectly acceptable.
The famous southwestern red sandstone formations are what is left of the eastern iron-rich mountain ranges that eroded and flowed west with the large rivers of past eons.

This article generally makes about as much sense as predicting we are going to run out of oxygen from all these new people on earth breathing it.

TosaGuy said...

If you read the comments, you will find that Jesse Helms and Henry Hyde are to blame.

Curious George said...

There is a big untapped source. Feminist vagina. Problem solved.

Next?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Curious George said...

There is a big untapped source.

The problem is, who wants to tap that?

Nonapod said...

Stronger regulations can prevent a lot of this damage

And here we reach the crux of the matter. The solution, as always, is more government. Apparently government is the only truly inexhaustible resource. More regulations, more bureaucrats to enforce those regulations, more oversight, more obstructions to markets, more massive logistical inefficiencies, more opportunities for graft, and more taxes to pay for all of it. And an new concerns to be constantly brought to light by a massive media machine to fuel this endless positive feedback loop of government growth. It'd be laughable if it wasn't so tedious and sad.

Patrick said...

Rev. Malthus, call your office.

Bob Boyd said...

We need to start subsidizing Bio-sand.

Owen said...

(1) Start panic
(2) Impose regulation
(3) Milk the system

Rinse, repeat.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

And no demand by the NYT that we end fracking? It's almost like they don't even try anymore.

Comanche Voter said...

That boy is getting all wee wee'd up. Apparently there will be an existential crisis at the NYT when there is no longer enough sand for the office sandbox where the editorial board plays while dreaming up their next attack on those Gun Crazy Racist Rethuglicans.

Original Mike said...

"According to the United Nations Environment Program, in 2012 alone the world used enough concrete to build a wall 89 feet high and 89 feet wide around the Equator."

I'm surprised it's not bigger.

This however, is impressive:

"From 2011 to 2013, China used more cement than the United States used in the entire 20th century."

Original Mike said...

All that sand would have made rock in a few millions of years. We're stealing from our children!

MadisonMan said...

It's hard to read through the so-satisfied-with-myself comments over at the Times.

Not one suggests they will curtail anything -- that's only for *other people*.

Mike makes right said...

This can be rectified by calling those evil, white leaders of "Big Sand" before Congress.

Char Char Binks said...

The NYT can go pound something else.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Brando,
Don't know if it's still true, but the Saudis used to import quite a lot of sand and gravel for construction. Their local sand is generally not suitable - what you want is competent (hard) quartz, and theirs is mostly too degenerate, i.e. too close to becoming clay particles.

Freder Frederson said...

My God, you people are pathetic. "If it's in the New York Times it must be unnecessarily alarmist". Granted, the headline was a little hyperbolic, but did any of you actually read the opinion piece (and it is clearly marked opinion) before you blasted it? It was reasonable and well thought out.

Original Mike said...

@MM - per your observation, I read some of the comments. It looks like peak sand can be addressed by abortion.

Original Mike said...

@Freder - I did notice that it was an opinion piece. IMO, that's what made it so stupid.

Bob Boyd said...

And what about the poor sand dabs? Their habitat is vanishing. They're forced to swim for miles in the open sea.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

MadisonMan said...

Not one suggests they will curtail anything...

I bet they are all in favor of more government spending on infrastructure

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

but did any of you actually read the opinion piece (and it is clearly marked opinion) before you blasted it?

My default assumption is that everything in the NYT is an opinion piece.

Original Mike said...

"I bet they are all in favor of more government spending on infrastructure."

I think pixie dist is in infinite supply.

LCpl Predator said...

I live in the 'Industrial Sand Capital in the World', and silica sand is mined all around us. In addition to providing jobs, the silica is used in the local glass factories as well. Our local economy depends on these mines and factory jobs.

I hate what it's done to our land, but I understand that because of the sand/glass factories, my dad was able to provide for his wife and four children, and we lived a modest Midwest life.

Curious George said...

"mike NYC 2 hours ago
Depressing. Man is the plague of this planet."

Martyr time Mike from NYC. Please kill yourself.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Freder: It's clearly an advert for the writer's upcoming book on the Global Black Market in Sand.
No, really: that's what it says at the end of the article.
(Though, given he asserts that most sand is produced and consumed over short distances because it's so heavy, it's hard for me to see how there could be much Globality about it.)
The article was almost entirely about abuses and dangers in sand mining, which stories are all probably true. But how does it rate compared to the numerous other hazard of life? Especially compared to any other kind of natural resource extraction industry? And did he really use the damage to "hundreds" of acres of Vietnamese forest as an example of eco-catastrophe? Hundreds? Shit, there's a gravel quarry about 10 miles from my laptop which is bigger than that, right next to some of the best wine-grape-growing land on the planet.
Pardon me if I don't start to worry about sand just yet.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

According to the United Nations Environment Program, in 2012 alone the world used enough concrete to build a wall 89 feet high and 89 feet wide around the Equator.

Or, more relevantly, a wall 1000 feet high and 99 feet wide the length of the US-Mexican border.

Bob Ellison said...

Freder Frederson, there's a lot of sand.

There is not, however, a lot of good argument about how human existence is the end of the world. There's a lot of bad argument on same.

There is also not a lot of time for me on this earth. I can't squander it on reading some NYT buffoon telling how carbon, or silicon, or something like that is in short supply.

Original Mike said...

From the NYT comments: "I remember a tall hill I would drive past from regular visits to another country. The hill bore scars which locals identified as the consequence of chopping off slabs of granite. Today that hill exists no more. I has literally been levelled."

Not to belittle this guy's favorite hill (too much), I get that resource extraction is unsettling. But the only solution (as the NYT commenters seem to desire) is to eliminate people.

Curious George said...

"Freder Frederson said...
My God, you people are pathetic. "If it's in the New York Times it must be unnecessarily alarmist". Granted, the headline was a little hyperbolic, but did any of you actually read the opinion piece (and it is clearly marked opinion) before you blasted it? It was reasonable and well thought out."

No it's not. First, all of it's examples are foreign. Nothing concrete (pardon the pun) about the U.S.

Second, a statement like "we are starting to run out" is simply retarded. With a finite resource...and there is no proof that it is on a practical level...we "started to run out" when we used the first shovel full.

There is a lot of construction grade sand not on rivers or beaches. it was put there billions of years ago. Hell, most of northern Wisconsin is sand. When they do a road project they just dig next to the road.

Original Mike said...

SiO2 is the most abundant molecule on the Earth's crust. If we can't harvest it, we can't harvest anything.

Bob Ellison said...

It once seemed as if the planet had such boundless supplies of oil, water, trees and land that we didn’t need to worry about them. But of course, we’re learning the hard way that none of those things are infinite, and the price we’ve paid so far for using them is going up fast. We’re having to conserve, reuse, find alternatives for and generally get smarter about how we use those natural resources. That’s how we need to start thinking about sand.

Vince Beiser, a journalist, is working on a book about the global black market in sand.

shiloh said...

"Like sand through the hourglass ... So are the days of our lives"

Again, after Obama was easily re-elected 4 years ago many of you said it was the end of civilization as we know it soooo ...

sand shortage, real or unreal, is inconsequential.

Nonapod said...

I read the article. I don't care how well written it is, for me to take it seriously it:

1) Would require that an opinion writer for the NYT is being truly objective and fair about his assessment of the situation. (Opinion writer for the NYT doesn't by default scream trustworthy to me)

2) Would also require that said opinion writer also possesses a deep understanding of the situation, or has access to a person(s) with a deep understanding of what sounds like a highly complex problem involving multiple industries in multiple countries using multiple resources (different types of sand) from multiple sources.

A sand shortage very well could be a serious problem, however there's nothing wrong with being skeptical, especially when we're confronted with all sorts of alarmism every day. In our social media driven, quick response, overreaction based culture, questioning and skepticism seemed to be discouraged and maligned.

It's distressing to me that so many people seem to take things at face value, without question, simply because they appear as well written articles in the NYT.

Bob Ellison said...

Vince Beiser, a journalist, is working on a book about the global black market in sand.

LarsPorsena said...

Just a few years ago it was Peak Oil. Now it's Peak Sand.

Nonapod said...

Vince Beiser, a journalist, is working on a book about the global black market in sand.

According to his wikipedia page he specializes in "specializing in criminal justice and other social issues" and has contributed to The Village Voice, The New Republic, The Nation, The Huffington post, and Rolling Stone and was also the senior editor for Mother Jones for awhile.

Original Mike said...

Blogger Fred Drinkwater said..."the Saudis used to import quite a lot of sand and gravel for construction. Their local sand is generally not suitable - what you want is competent (hard) quartz, and theirs is mostly too degenerate, i.e. too close to becoming clay particles."

I've been studying sedimentary rock recently. Are "competent" and "degenerate" terms the industry uses to describe types of sand?

Owen said...

Google "sand shortage" and Beiser is there along with links to NPR/PRI which is touting his new book on sand wars, sand mafia, etc. So: is this an opinion or a blurb for his book?

Also prominent is his March 2015 piece for Wired magazine, "The Deadly Global War For Sand." Looks as if Mr. Beiser is a good recycler of precious resources, turning an article into a book into an op-ed and who knows, maybe talk show appearances and White House lectures.

He says we are burning through our supply of this precious resource at the rate of 40 Billion tons a year. But what is 40 Billion tons in 3-D? A cubic meter of sand weighs 1500 kg, so a 1000 kg (ton) of sand is about 2/3 of a cubic meter. So 40 Billion tons is about 25 Billion meters cubed, or a volume about 3 kilometers on a side. Or a slab 16 kilometers square and 100 meters deep. (Please check my math here).

A square of land 16 km x 16 km = 10 miles square = a fairly small city's footprint, but 330 feet deep. A pretty good sized hole, but this meets the needs of the entire planet for a year.

The Sahara has the wrong kind of sand, maybe, but just to get some sense of scale, it is said to be 3 million square miles (7-plus million square kilometers), but only 20% is sand, so about 1.5 million square kilometers. Depth is estimated to average 150 meters. So let's say we have a volume of 1.5 million km sq x 0.15 km = 225,000 cubic kilometers of sand. Divide that by 3 cubic km/year and the Sahara would be depleted in 70 thousand years. Again, check my math.

I don't think we're going to run short, we'll just have to truck the stuff a bit farther.

Meeeea said...

Thank you Brando for comment #1, first time I've laughed in days!

gadfly said...

Do you mean to tell me that all glass recycling in the United States has gone for naught? Then we should begin the next logical process - mine the landfills for glass - which everyone knows is made of sand.

As for black markets for sand - we can fix that by putting it on the Commodities Exchange. When we do, the big money folks will begin to explore for large deposits of sandstone which can contain natural gas as well.

“Let's be clear. The planet is not in jeopardy. We are in jeopardy. We haven't got the power to destroy the planet - or to save it. But we might have the power to save ourselves.”
― Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

John said...

Wow, first the sand, then there is that ugly rumor floating around about running out of oxygen, and of course we can't forget helium, we are quickly running out of that too. Oh yea and ice, we are running out of that too! About the only thing we are not running out of is stupid commentary from the likes of the NY Times, Huffington Post, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and ABCNNBCBS, FOX and a bizzillion other outlets fueled by commentators planning on selling a book or something.

Original Mike said...

"Do you mean to tell me that all glass recycling in the United States has gone for naught? Then we should begin the next logical process - mine the landfills for glass - which everyone knows is made of sand"

Technical point, but I don't think you can unmake glass into sand.

rhhardin said...

Speaking of running out of sand, somebody has taught Hillary not to use her upper voice register in public speeches.

bagoh20 said...

"Or, more relevantly, a wall 1000 feet high and 99 feet wide the length of the US-Mexican border."

"And that wall just got 10 feet higher."

Original Mike said...

"we can't forget helium, we are quickly running out of that too."

We kinda are, though that's more an economic issue. Which, come to think of it, all the other shortages are too. Is there anything we are actually running out of (honest question).

Original Mike said...

Species! We are running out of some species.

Fernandinande said...

August 25, 2014:
North America's Sand Market Continues Boom Times, Says Raymond James

Sep 18, 2014
North America sand market to see big growth

September 21, 2015:
The Surprisingly Big Market for Sand Just Collapsed

Danno said...

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...And no demand by the NYT that we end fracking? It's almost like they don't even try anymore.

I was expecting this to be a tirade on the use of sand in oil/gas fracking, but it wasn't even mentioned.

cubanbob said...

Demolish Blue Cities and recycle the concrete. Problem solved.

Harold said...

""Do you mean to tell me that all glass recycling in the United States has gone for naught? Then we should begin the next logical process - mine the landfills for glass - which everyone knows is made of sand"

Technical point, but I don't think you can unmake glass into sand."

Take the glass. Break it up. Throw it on to a beach with lots of wave action. Wait a hundred years or so. Don't walk on the beach for the first few years after dumping.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

DAMMIT! I just shorted a bunch in sand futures.

Curious George said...

"Original Mike said...
"we can't forget helium, we are quickly running out of that too."

We kinda are, though that's more an economic issue. Which, come to think of it, all the other shortages are too. Is there anything we are actually running out of (honest question)."

The answer is either nothing. Or everything.

Hagar said...

Sand is mountains in the process of being recycled.

"Competent soils" are those able to support whatever structure is being contemplated - always provided they are properly placed and processed.
I have never heard of "degenerate" soils - that is more of a term about human nature and not applied to Mother Nature's creations.

There are sands that dissolve and melt away when wetted, and there are sands from young and unconsolidated rocks, such as the Sandias on the east side of Albuquerque, which turn to finer and finer powders under traffic, and there are sands containing chemicals that react with the alkali in Portland cement, etc., etc.

Gahrie said...

but did any of you actually read the opinion piece (and it is clearly marked opinion) before you blasted it? It was reasonable and well thought out.

Anybody trying to manufacture a crisis over sand is neither reasonable or well thinking.

Freeman Hunt said...

"According to the United Nations Environment Program, in 2012 alone the world used enough concrete to build a wall 89 feet high and 89 feet wide around the Equator."

That's impressive. Humans rule.

Ann Althouse said...

They paved paradise.

Gahrie said...

They paved paradise.

Don't look now, but that was the secular Left......

The Elder said...

Well, I certainly agree that sand is used excessively in the building of bunkers on new golf courses! And old ones, too.

Perhaps it's a conspiracy driven by sand wedge manufacturers.

Michael K said...

"It was reasonable and well thought out."

Yes, and so was the EPA ruling the sand is "poison."

Dad said...

Just for perspective:
The volume of an 89 ft by 89 ft wall around the equator is about 7 cubic miles. The volume of the outer 5 miles of the earth's crust is 1 billion cubic miles.

gadfly said...

@Original Mike said...

Technical point, but I don't think you can unmake glass into sand.

And you would be wrong, yet again, Ke-mo sah-bee:
http://www.pilotcrushtec.com/making-sand-from-glass/

Fred Drinkwater said...

Original Mike:
"Competent" is used to refer to tough or hard massy rock - el Capitan is competent rock. I used it because I happened to be looking at a highly magnified photo of quartz sand, and that's what came to mind.
"Degenerate" may not be a term of art, but it is commonly used to refer to stony minerals which are fragmenting into fine particles through aging and weathering. One can buy, for instance, degenerate granite gravel for temporary paving of garden paths. When heavily rolled it compresses into a modestly cohesive and durable mass.
If there's a real mineralogist or geologist in the house, I'd be happy to be corrected.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Did the EPA really rule that sand was a "poison"?
I've seen a MSDS for granular salt (sodium chloride) which we tend to think of as basically harmless, but when handled in industrial quantities by high-speed machinery it can produce hazardous dusts.
Lots of things that are common can be dangerous. Nitrogen gas is the most common gas in ordinary air by far, but in an industrial setting it may be classified as an "asphyxiant" because it contains no oxygen (surprise!). People have died by forgetting this.
(Gee. I just got finished ranting at my sister-in-law about RoHS2 rules in the EU, but here I am defending (a little bit) the EPA. What's the world coming to?)

Original Mike said...

Thanks Fred. gadfly, I can't make your link work.

gadfly said...

@cubanbob said...
Demolish Blue Cities and recycle the concrete. Problem solved.

We can start with Detroit which has 36% percent of its developed properties, some 140,000 lots, most with buildings, abandoned then taken over by Detroit City and Wayne County for delinquent taxes. These can be had for less than $500 per lot if residential. The city also has abandoned much of its streets, sewers, curbing and sidewalks. Community structures, including fire and police stations, schools and hospitals stand starkly empty as well. Think of all the concrete and glass that can be converted back to sand for use in new fracking adventures.

I wanna go home, I wanna go home
Oh, how I wanna go home.

gadfly said...

Original Mike - right click the link and Google will pop up a "goto" command for you to click

gadfly said...

Mike, sorry first you have to highlight the link.

Original Mike said...

gadfly - I got to the site, but it's a blank page on my iPad.