Sand makes up concrete and forms road beds. The glass in our windows and cell phones comes from sand. Natural gas fracking cannot happen without sand, and neither can flood prevention. But as global standards of living rise, demand for sand has risen, too.
Global sand cartels have led to organized crime around sand. People fight over sand quality, with rough coastal sand reigning supreme over the more abundant desert sand. Many countries have banned sand exports over environmental concerns. Sand exploitation has shifted to the developing world.
To discuss the global sand crisis, we’re joined by Jodi Brandt, professor of Human Environment Systems at Boise State University. She’s the co-author of "A looming tragedy of the sand commons” in the journal Science, and “The world is facing a global sand crisis” in The Conversation.