Breaking Down: Collapse

Episode 41 - Peak Sand

June 29, 2021 Kory & Kellan Episode 41
Breaking Down: Collapse
Episode 41 - Peak Sand
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Breaking Down: Collapse
Episode 41 - Peak Sand
Jun 29, 2021 Episode 41
Kory & Kellan

Many of our scarce resources are known, somewhat mainstream, and fairly obvious. Others, however, are not as apparent. This episode is about the surprisingly urgent need for ethically sourced sand. Peak sand may be reached in the next few decades.

Learn More:

https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/press-release/rising-demand-sand-calls-resource-governance

https://www.ecomagazine.com/in-depth/featured-stories/slipping-through-our-fingers-are-we-running-out-of-sand

https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/jul/01/riddle-of-the-sands-the-truth-behind-stolen-beaches-and-dredged-islands?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other#comment-117685215

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/05/sand-shortage-the-world-is-running-out-of-a-crucial-commodity.html

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/feb/27/sand-mining-global-environmental-crisis-never-heard

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191108-why-the-world-is-running-out-of-sand

If you would like to listen to the rest of our bonus episodes, consider joining us on Patreon.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/collapsepod)

Show Notes Transcript

Many of our scarce resources are known, somewhat mainstream, and fairly obvious. Others, however, are not as apparent. This episode is about the surprisingly urgent need for ethically sourced sand. Peak sand may be reached in the next few decades.

Learn More:

https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/press-release/rising-demand-sand-calls-resource-governance

https://www.ecomagazine.com/in-depth/featured-stories/slipping-through-our-fingers-are-we-running-out-of-sand

https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/jul/01/riddle-of-the-sands-the-truth-behind-stolen-beaches-and-dredged-islands?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other#comment-117685215

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/05/sand-shortage-the-world-is-running-out-of-a-crucial-commodity.html

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/feb/27/sand-mining-global-environmental-crisis-never-heard

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191108-why-the-world-is-running-out-of-sand

If you would like to listen to the rest of our bonus episodes, consider joining us on Patreon.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/collapsepod)

Episode 41 – Peak Sand

Kellan: [00:00:00] Kory I know you're going to be teaching me about some really interesting things today, but before we dive in, I'll just mention that I am not nearly as involved on Reddit as you are. 

Kory: [00:00:25] And by that, I think you mean you're on Reddit like once every few months. 

Kellan: [00:00:29] Maybe every couple of weeks. I've actually never posted anything on Reddit. I just use it to occasionally read what other people write.

Kory: [00:00:37] It's called a lurker. You're lurking. I'm going to teach you the Reddit lingo a little by little. 

Kellan: [00:00:41] Okay. As I was lurking, I saw some things on the collapse subreddit, and frankly they made me kind of sad, which probably isn't a surprise. Most of the stuff on there isn't super happy. But what made me sad is that in the comments, on some of the posts, people were saying things like I've just given up all hope in finding any meaning in life. I've decided I'm not even going to try. What does anything matter?" Right. Just kind of this extreme state of depression, because they see collapse in our roadmap. 

And it was to the extent that people were saying, " I have consciously chosen not to save any money for the future," or " I've decided I'm not going to try and have a successful career", or "I don't care about my family cause it's all going to end anyways." and I think the philosophy that you and I have adopted is very opposite of that. I think knowing that we have a limited amount of time before things get more and more difficult makes me want to make life as meaningful as I possibly can while I can. And especially because we don't know the timeline of anything for somebody to say, like, I'm not going to save any money because I know collapse is going to happen in the future. That seems like a really poor choice, right? You're only going to create more suffering for yourself. So those thoughts have been kind of bouncing around in my mind, wanted to hear your insights. 

Kory: [00:01:59] Yeah. Like you said, I think the biggest thing about it is we don't know, we don't have a timeline. Right? I mean, we are confident that it's going to happen, but you know, John Michael Greer talks about how it's something that could happen over the course of centuries, it's happening now. It could very well be that things just gradually get worse over time. So when you think about your life 50 years from now, you think about things gradually getting worse from here to there. It doesn't mean society is going to be without any technology and their supply chains will all be broken down and you're going to be Mad Maxing it. Like no life's going to get tougher for the poor. And those who have financially set themselves up for success are more likely to be comfortable.

So making the conscious decision to not save up for that seems like a poor one. And who knows, maybe you're right. You know, maybe there will be some big crazy event. And by 2035 money doesn't mean anything anymore. And you were able to live it up for a few years. Like, I guess that's a risk that you take and everybody makes their own decisions, but I've seen some responses to those types of comments that you're referring to where people say, like, "I agree that life doesn't make much sense and I don't have much hope for what the future holds. So I've just dedicated myself to serving others. Like I've just dedicated. What's left to just be nice and help people through what's going to happen."

I know I'm not going to make it so I can either like live the rest of my life miserable, you know, like we've talked about in the past, in my bunker with my, you know, whatever with my guns in my food storage. Or I can say, how can I help ease the suffering of people around me who are suffering through the same things that I am.

And personally, that's a viewpoint that I take. If I don't have that ability to serve others left in me, it's at that point that I feel like there really is nothing left.

Kellan: [00:03:44] Yeah. And I would hope, you know, as we are getting more and more of an opportunity to create more awareness and to hopefully have some level of impact with our audience. You know, I look at the thousands of listens that we get week after week on this podcast. And if this information is going to cause people to want to withdraw from social interaction and make really unwise choices about their future and become ultra depressed, I don't want to be a part of that. Right, but I'm encouraged by some of the comments and feedback we get and the messages people send where they're letting us know that this is helping them feel like part of a community, right. We're here to help each other become more aware and prepare and do what we can to help other people and make as positive of an impact as we can.

And without being delusional or falling into hopium, like we call it, that old Maxim of, you know, prepare for the worst hope for the best. I just hope we can stay away from the extremes. We can lower the amount of crazy. We can lower the amount of heightened tensions and anger that's out there. And like you said, just be more kind, find ways to help relieve the suffering of others. 

Kory: [00:04:52] Yeah. I mean, when it comes down to it, anyone of us could die tomorrow. People die premature deaths all the time. And so we should each be living life to the fullest. And it's been really inspirational when people tell us like " your podcast is helping me realize I need to live my life to the fullest now, enjoy life, don't sweat, the small stuff", you know, that type of thing.

Like you said, we really would hope that people don't take this information or, you know, people who are spending a lot of time on the subreddit, just getting depressed. we've talked about different coping mechanisms in the past. And you know, I think the one best for our mental health for the soul is what you said. And that's taking this really cruddy situation and trying to make someone else feel a little bit more comfortable through it. 

All right. So on that note, let's talk about sand. Cause you know, people love dedicating half an hour to 45 minutes of their life to listen to two guys talk about rocks that have over thousands of years eroded into small shards.

Kellan: [00:05:47] Yeah, for sure. 

Kory: [00:05:50] Well, you know, we've talked about peak resources on the podcast a few times, and we'll surely bring it up again in the future. I think sometimes the resources we're talking about seem obvious that we could peak in because you know, it's talked about often, we can see how we're using it. We can see how finite it is. Those things are more obvious to us. 

 Some resources though, I think it can come as a surprise to find out that we might peak in them. I know for you Kellan you were surprised and a little skeptical about the idea of peak soil. When we first brought it up. And I think today's conversation probably coming into this you're feeling the same way when I say the word "peak sand." 

Kellan: [00:06:24] Yeah. I'm probably more open to it now because I'm getting used to learning about just what a dire situation we're in with all these resources that we have. Peak oil, that one, like you said, probably a lot of people know about, and it makes a lot of sense. The fact that we're running out of fresh water, that's another thing. When we had the conversation about peak soil, the thing that actually surprised me the most was to learn that we're running out of phosphorus and that that's such a key ingredient in the fertilizers we use. 

So I know that sand gets used in the production of like glass and cement. That's about as much as I know about it though. 

Kory: [00:06:57] yeah. And we'll talk about all of its uses. We'll talk about why we're running out of it. But first I thought it'd be interesting to talk about how much sand there is. You know, some numbers are too huge to fathom and in the podcast today, we're going to be talking about a lot of big numbers and I'll do my best to sort of contextualize those.

But one, for example, that I really don't know how to put in context is that there are estimated to be somewhere around seven quintillion, 500 quadrillion grains of sand on the earth. You know, astronomists in talking about how many stars there are in the universe will compare that to like the number of grains of sand on the earth. And that number that I gave is just meaningless. Right? Once even get into like the trillions, those numbers, just th th they can't be pictured, but there's a lot of sand. It's everywhere. 

And before we actually get to why sand is a very limited resource, I think it's important to talk about everything that it's used for. So you mentioned glass, concrete. Um, it's also used for asphalt. obviously with glass, we're talking about everything from windows to windshields, to the screens in our devices. It's used in semiconductors, in electronics, for roof shingles, railroad ballast. Uh, it's put on the roads in the winter. We use a lot of sand for things like fracking, for coastal defenses, like reclaiming land that's been lost to the sea, which is something that's been happening a lot in Singapore, for example, as well as shoring up sinking islands. Literally our societies are built from sand. And we're not going to break down and exactly how much sand is being used for each one of those different purposes.

But as an example, we'll look at concrete. So every new building that's being constructed, every new home with a foundation, or cement pad, every driveway, every cinder block, every paver, parking lots, parking garages, all the skyscrapers that are made out of concrete. And concrete is 26% sand. So then you go to roads and you picture, you know, all the new roads that are built every year and all the roads that are replaced every year. Sand is used, not just in the concrete roads, but also an asphalt. So concrete alone is being produced at a rate of two cubic meters per year for each person alive. So that's around 11,000 pounds of concrete for each person per year. 

And China is currently responsible for 58% of all the concrete used in the world. And in fact, they use more concrete from 2011 to 2014 than the U S used in all of the 1900s which is just crazy to me. Three years, and they used more than we used in a hundred. I think it's really hard, if not impossible to picture the scale and the size of China's population and how rapidly they're growing and developing. You know, Shanghai has added 7 million people in recent years. It's a city of 23 million. 

Ya know, the next largest consumer of concrete is India and they have more than tripled their rate of concrete consumption since the year 2000. And while they're still rapidly developing for the population they already have, being a developing nation, their population is expected to increase by another 25% by 2050. So the developing nations are just using an insane amount of concrete to build up these massive cities to build these roads. There's so much of that being used. And between 2013 and 2018 global consumption of sand increased 25%. So in just five years, we've increased our sand consumption by a quarter. 

And I know I'm giving you a lot of numbers here, but it's just to kind of put into perspective how much sand we're talking about. And in the last 25 years, the price for sand as a commodity has increased 600%. So it's becoming a much more valuable resource and in part, because it's becoming a dwindling one. 

So speaking of huge numbers, this is fun. Let's talk for a minute about how much sand is estimated to be used every year. So it's hard to get this number. They don't know exactly because it's pretty unregulated. There's no one that tracks the amount of sand that's being mined. A lot of the mines are not tracked or anything like that, but it's estimated that we consume somewhere between 40 and 50 billion metric tonnes of sand each year. That's around 110 trillion pounds of sand. 

So to put that into perspective and conceptualize what that number actually might look like. I want to do a visual with you Kellan so imagine a solid brick of sand, like the type you'd use from a bucket mold to make a sand castle. Now imagine that brick as wide as a six lane freeway with a median in the middle and shoulders on each side, so we're talking a very wide road. And as tall as a nine story building. About 90 feet in the air. You have a visual of what I'm saying here? 

Kellan: [00:11:29] I think so. 

Kory: [00:11:30] Basically what that is is it's 88 feet wide by 88 feet tall. So now picture that massive wall of sand extended for a mile, getting bigger. 

Kellan: [00:11:40] Yeah, I think I'm visualizing that. 

Kory: [00:11:41] So now imagine that not only does it extend a mile, but it extends all the way around the equator. 25,000 miles. That's how much sand we consume every year. 

Kellan: [00:11:52] okay. That last part got me. you're going to say now, imagine that extends for 100 miles. But you're saying all the way around the equator. I can't comprehend how we possibly use that much sand.

Kory: [00:12:04] Yeah. It's crazy. And that's every single year. So while that's still not really easy to picture, it's easier to picture than me just saying we use 50 billion tons per year. 

Kellan: [00:12:13] Yeah, that's absolutely insane. But if I zoom out and look at the globe and picture a line that goes all the way around the equator, if that line is 88 feet wide, like that's just a tiny little line. So on a global perspective, I mean, you talked previously about just how much sand there is. However many quintillion grains of sand. It feels like we've gotta be a really long ways away from running out. Am I wrong? 

Kory: [00:12:37] Yeah. So I think when we think of sand, we primarily picture the deserts and these massive Hills of sand. Right. And these massive Hills of sand. 

Kellan: [00:12:46] Yeah. And I think about all of the beaches, right? All the shorelines around the whole globe.

Kory: [00:12:51] Yeah, exactly. Um, thinking of the deserts first. I mean the Sahara desert alone makes up three and a half million square miles, which is roughly the land area of the United States. Okay. So it's massive. And the sand can be between 70 and 140 feet deep. That's roughly 20 to 40 meters. But you've heard the phrase, "water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink." Basically speaking about sailors out at sea who are dehydrated or dying of thirst, even though they're surrounded by miles of water. Obviously they can't drink ocean water as it's not potable. So that's the situation that the world is in right now when it comes to sand. Sand used for industrial purposes, especially concrete, needs to be a specific type and desert sand is far too round and fine to be used in any of those processes. So generally concrete uses coarser sand that's angular, which helps give it strength and increases the bond. Desert sand is basically useless for those applications. It wouldn't allow for the type of bond that concrete requires. 

Kellan: [00:13:49] I guess that makes sense . If you think of sand that's really fine and round, there's nothing to catch. Right? All those little sand particles would just slide past each other. It seems like even though they add all sorts of other things to make concrete, it could easily break or crumble if it's used with the wrong kind of sand. 

Kory: [00:14:07] Yeah. And you can tell a difference in the type of sand, just by looking at pictures, right. You look at the Sahara and there's these big dunes blown over by the wind. And then you picture like a, a beach at the ocean or your sandbox in the backyard. And it's, it's a much different color. It's a different type. It's more rigid. Not all sand can do all things. 

And the good example of this is the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, which is the tallest skyscraper in the world. And Dubai is surrounded by sand. And yet, in order to build that skyscraper, they had to import sand from the beaches of Australia to do it. 

Kellan: [00:14:41] Really? 

Kory: [00:14:42] Yeah. Crazy to think about. Right. You would think they would just take a dump truck from the desert next door, bring it on over, but they had to internationally source it. And the other issue with that is that even if desert sand was usable, And perhaps is usable for other applications, transportation cost for most countries of the amounts of sand that we're talking about would be astronomical and uneconomical. Dubai is a wealthy nation that could afford the sand to be shipped from Australia in order to build the largest skyscraper in the world. But if the cost of roads and shingles and electronics, foundations, all of that increased dramatically, it would be catastrophic for the economy. If we're talking about our societies being built on sand, making up a significant portion of our infrastructure, increasing the cost of that by having to include transportation around the world would have a significant impact. Again, it doesn't matter anyway, because that sand can't be used for these purposes.

So then that begs the question. if we're not using desert sand, Like, where is the sand that we are using coming from? And you mentioned one, which is beaches. The sand that's used for concrete mostly comes from water sources or very near water sources because it's those water sources that give the sand the components, the shape that it needs to have in order to be good for industrial use. It's primarily being dredged from the bottom of rivers and lakes, but like you mentioned beaches as well. 

So that insanely massive wall of sand that stretched all the way around the world. 88 feet tall by 88 feet wide is being pulled mostly from around those water sources and the biggest sand mining operation in the world takes place on lake Poyang in China, Where they're believed to be removing nearly a million tons of sand per day. 

When you talk about peak of something, usually you try and estimate how much of that something you have left. With sand this is such a new, and one that has not been studied a whole lot. I couldn't find an answer to that. I don't think anybody really knows exactly how much sand is left, but at least in the immediate term, the problem may not be that the sand isn't there. But more that the sand shouldn't be taken from where it is. The available sand in places where it does the least amount of harm to the environment or to existing infrastructure may be nearly gone already. And the only places left to take it from will drastically do harm to those things. 

So, you know, you think about nations that are faced with the dilemma of either continuing to build and grow and develop in order to compete on the national stage and provide for its people or collapse, you know, or you think of companies that can either make tons of profit or go under, like those companies and nations are all likely and already are choosing to further damage the environment instead of stopping the growth and development and profiting.

 And we'll get to what those environmental impacts are here in just a minute. But I think it's important to note that peak sand is something that was mostly ignored until very recently when it started to gain the attention of environmental groups and international agencies. So the UN in just 2019 created a resolution to increase the governance of sand removal and trade.

 They haven't really done a whole lot with that resolution sense, but the report highlights that it's a serious threat to the environment, to existing infrastructure, to human life and to our social system. One of the climates scientists at the UN went so far as to say that peak sand is one of the greatest sustainability issues that the world will face in this century. 

And they said, and I'll quote from an article here that I read by the guardian, they said "it is about anticipating what can happen in the next decade or so, because if we don't look forward, if we don't anticipate, we will have massive problems about sand, but also about land planning". 

Kellan: [00:18:15] Okay. So help me understand that statement, that we will not only have issues with a lack of sand, but it's also going to cause issues with land planning. 

Kory: [00:18:23] Yeah. Like what I had said, you know, it may not be just an issue of do we have enough sand to even continue growing, but also what are the consequences of taking that sand from the places where it currently is? So really we're running into a few major issues here. The first is that running out of sand is unacceptable when it comes to growth of societies. There are no proper substitutes right now to replace sand. And the few substitutes that there are, are highly expensive and cost prohibitive. 

We know that in order to avoid financial and economic collapse, we have to continue growing. But paradoxically growth is also that primary driver of collapse. And in this case the continued extraction of sand is causing an accelerated amount of damage to the environment, as well as having increasingly negative social implications. 

Because sand is becoming more scarce the price is being driven up. As mentioned before it's gone up six times in just the last 25 years, but because the price is growing up, there's also a very big black market that's arisen. And with that black market, a whole mafia structure has been organized around sand. The sand mafia as they're called pay police and government officials to turn a blind eye while the construction companies they sell to will ask very few questions about the sand they receiving. Ya know these concrete companies, are not wanting to have to ship sand from hundreds or thousands of miles away in order to get it more ethically because it's not cost-effective for them. It's not profitable. So because of that beaches, rivers, islands around the world are being torn apart to keep the market moving. 

Kellan: [00:19:53] Okay. This part is crazy to me. When I think of the black market, which frankly I know very little about, but I think of things that can be obtained and traded very discreetly. When you talk about big truckloads of sand and whatever processes required to excavate larger amounts of sand and transport, that it's hard for me to imagine how that can be done discreetly and how there could be this whole sand mafia around it. 

Kory: [00:20:18] Well, I think part of that is that it doesn't have to be discreet when the only people who are paying attention are being paid off. You know, if I see an enormous dump truck driving down the road full of sand, I'm not going to think anything of it. I'm going to assume they have proper permits to have extracted that from wherever they did. And frankly, it's boring. I don't care. Right? The sand is very unregulated. And so if a government official is supposed to care, but they're being paid not to, it's very easy to just turn a blind eye. 

But beyond that, you know, it gets crazier. An entire beach in Jamaica was illegally removed in one night by 500 different truckloads of sand being taken. And mining can be so lucrative and so unregulated that in some parts of the world people will haul it out in buckets to fill truck beds or carry on the backs of donkeys to make their living. 

And you know it's especially serious when journalists and activists are killed for researching or trying to bring light to the situation. In March, 2018, a journalist in India was run over by a sand truck because he filmed a police officer accepting a bribe in return for keeping silent on sand mining in a crocodile sanctuary. So like they caught him filming this and they ran him over with the sand truck. And it's not just a one-off thing. This is actually apparently pretty common. Another was killed that same year for researching an illegal mining site. Other deaths have been known to happen in India, Mexico, South Africa, and a bunch of other nations over activists, just trying to call attention to the issue. 

And when you think about it, I mean, again, we're talking about the foundation on which our societies are built on, infrastructure wise. It's always been thought of as this super abundant, super cheap commodity that we'll just have as much of as we need, but with such an increase in usage and with such a decrease of environmentally friendly places to pull it from it has grown and blown up into this thing that has motivated killings, bribery, all of this different stuff. And it's so interesting because I was thinking about this UN report and how if for years, sand has been extracted without regulation and we've built our societies on it. And now all of a sudden we're realizing, "Hey, this is actually a really big issue, we need to stop", the UN very well knows that we can't just stop. And so it's not really any surprise that they haven't taken any huge actions to stop it. 

If the UN said tomorrow, we must put a halt on all sand extractions from any site that could cause an environmental crisis, that would put an end to basically all economic growth and with usher in financial and economic collapse all by itself.

Kellan: [00:22:59] So you've talked about all the evidence there is that this is a real problem, while also acknowledging that we don't really know how much sand there is left or how soon we would run out or when we would actually hit peak sand. But let's just say next year was the year that we hit peak sand. What do you think that means? Like what would you expect to see happen if that were the case? 

Kory: [00:23:22] Yeah. So when we talk about hitting the peak of something, obviously again, we're not talking about it being completely depleted. Basically just means that the amount at which we are consuming or extracting has peaked and we start to extract less and less thereafter. And so when you think of countries that need that sand in order to continue to build their infrastructure, when you think of fracking, when you think of the electronics that we use, all of this stuff that requires sand, just like with peak anything, the cost for that commodity goes through the roof.

And we've been able to absorb a six times increase in costs in the last 25 years up to this point. But if, for example, sand was heavily regulated, all of a sudden, and that regulation was enforced I think we would start to see, you know, the price of concrete, double or triple or quadruple. I think we'd start to see, you know, construction companies buckling under that or the businesses or the homeowners not being able to afford the structures they're trying to build . You know, I don't think it would be a sudden crazy event, but I do think that it would have a severe impact on the economy as people quickly realized that they were not able to, afford the goods and services that those sands are included in. 

Kellan: [00:24:32] That makes sense. And you've mentioned that it's lucrative enough that people are kind of turning a blind eye and allowing it to happen where it shouldn't happen. But if we got to a point where we were desperate for sand, do you think on a more systemic level, we would openly allow sand extraction from the places that we by policy don't allow it now. 

Kory: [00:24:51] Yeah, personally, I think that the powers that be are not going to allow for society to fall apart, you know, in order to save the fish. We've seen that before. We've see it every day. We are doing so much harm already to the environment through so many other practices that are not being properly regulated or enforced. And it's all for the sake of growth. So me personally, I don't think there's any hope of the government saying we have to stop doing this.

And like you asked in your question, if we ran out of sand in the places that it's currently being extracted would the government say, "okay, you can now extract in these places that are sensitive, that it's currently not allowed."? I think so. 

We haven't really talked about why sand extraction is so bad. I mean, you know, we've said that it happens in places where it harms the environment and things like that, but what does that really mean? so habitats for fish, turtles, crocodiles, porpoise, other Marine life are being destroyed. Water is polluted by the machinery and the amount of sand and dirt being picked up that decreases sunlight in the water. It kills plants. It kills organisms. It suffocates the fish.

By extracting sand, the water tables also lowered, which can contaminate and pollute drinking water. Extraction creates stagnant pools of water because they're digging these holes out, which then fill with water. And it creates these little mini ponds, basically that foster malaria. Coastal sand barriers and coral reefs that protect coastal communities and habitats are being destroyed.

They're being eliminated because you basically just got these big ships that will come in with massive buckets on the bottom and just kick up every bit of sand that they can. Essentially vacuuming it up from the river beds from the sea floor or from lakes. Lake Poyang, which I had mentioned before in China it's only being mined now because mining in the Yangtze river became too hazardous. And those two rivers are connected. But as an article, as that same article that I quoted earlier in the guardian puts it, they say " by the late 1990s, miners had pulled out so much sand that bridges were undermined. Shipping was snarled and 1000 foot swaths of riverbank collapsed. Unnerved by the damage to a waterway that provides water to 400 million people, chinese authorities ban sand mining on the Yangtze in 2000. That sent the miners swarming to Poyang lake." And since 2000, they've been doing the same amount of damage just on this lake. Locals have talked about how, you know, their livelihoods are around fishing on the lake and they're able to catch like 5% of what they could just two decades ago. 

Bridges have collapsed in Portugal, in India, and Taiwan resulting in around a hundred deaths, all due to sediment, being disturbed or removed around the bridges. Water pipes get filled with the sediment as it clouds the water, which clogs those pipes again, polluting the water supply or causing damage to the existing systems. 

In California, they did some research that said that for every ton of sand that was removed from river beds there was a $3 cost to infrastructure that came from taxpayers, which when multiplied out was just a massive amount of money. 

Ocean floors are also being damaged in the same way as rivers with huge impacts on Marine life on coral reefs. In Indonesia, at least 25 islands have been completely erased off the map since 2005, by being mined for sand. 

 Rem oving sand causes more erosion to beaches. In some parts of the world has been observed that. Mining sand has caused a Rosen so bad that it wipes away homes on the coast, causes cliffs to collapse. So there's just all these different things that combined together do a huge amount of damage. Earlier at the beginning of the episode you had mentioned, like, we got all the sand on all the beaches in the world and it's true, but when you picture again, that 25,000 mile long, 88 foot wide, 88 foot tall wall of sand being taken from those beaches, from those riverbeds, from those lakes consider all the environmental damage that that's doing and consider that that amount is growing and growing rapidly year over year to feed an insatiable need for these developing nations. It's easy to see how unsustainable that is. And like that UN climate scientist said, the next 10 to 15 years will be really important to see what happens in this sphere. It's not likely again, that will suddenly just be out of sand. And then no more construction can be done, but that sand that is left to extract will continue to do great harm to the environment and cause nations a lot of trouble regarding that regulation and governance. 

If at this point we're already seeing killings and mafia and bribery and all of these things, how much worse is that going to get as this problem rapidly accelarates ?

Kellan: [00:29:25] Yeah. And one thought I had as you restated that from that UN climate scientist, I feel like, with this topic or with so many of the other topics that we've discussed up to this point in previous years, they were saying, you know, we're going to hit a real critical point in 50 years, and yet more and more I'm hearing the next five years or in the next 10 years, that's when we're going to see just how much trouble we're in. 

And another thought that comes to mind for me is what we've talked about with peak oil, which is that there's an energy return on energy investment. and we could probably go out away from the shore and get sand from the bottom of the ocean. There's plenty of sand there. It would still have environmental impacts, like you talked about. But I imagine it would just be so costly to try and excavate the sand off of the bottom of the ocean and get it where we need to get it. 

Kory: [00:30:16] Yeah. And that is being done. Um, the UK gets one fifth of its sand from the ocean, but that comes at a cost, you know, and the costs, like you said, are partially environmental. Sand coming from saltwater sources has to be cleaned differently, has to be treated differently, has to be shipped further. The equipment to get it is more expensive. And so like with a lot of things around peak anything, the biggest concerns are the costs. The increase in economic costs to extract and also the increasing environmental costs associated with it as well. Up until now sand has always been cheap and a big part of the reason for that is because the environmental and social and even the negative impacts on current infrastructure, those costs have not been factored into it. So as those costs are more increasingly factored into it, and as it becomes harder to extract and just economically more costly, ya know, that could go to increase the cost of living for our societies. And when you think about heading into a world, that's already, you know inflationary, costs are going up for everyday goods. And now we're talking about costs increasing even more because of scarce resources. It's just something that puts that much more of a strain on a system that's already at a breaking point. 

So I know this has probably been a little bit of a shorter episode than normal, but it doesn't mean it's less important. And while running into problems with peak sand may not be what causes the collapse of society. It's just one more thing in the list of all the other things that combined together could be the straw that breaks the camel's back, will surely cause a little bit more of a strain on our systems moving forward.

And it will be interesting to see if the UN does anything if they don't and how the world reacts. .