The School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences organises a regular series of research seminars throughout the academic year to which everyone is welcome to attend. Speakers - both external and internal to the University - will talk on topics related to all aspects of Earth Sciences.
Today's speaker is Dr Ian Selby from the University of Plymouth.Lurid recent headlines suggest, across the planet, we are running out of sand, just like many other natural resources which have traditionally been assumed to be essentially infinite. Sand has been critical from the beginning of urbanisation – the mineral resource that has formed the foundations of civilisation through construction of our buildings and infrastructure.
But within the last decade or two have sources and supply become critical to the point where sand has become a conflict mineral. Now it is suggested we are threatened by the unmanaged and rapid depletion of global stocks (UNDP 2014).
Undoubtedly demand for sand has grown rapidly, primarily driven by population growth, combined with our appetite for higher standards of living and increasing urbanisation. Tensions in supply have arisen as new development and places emerge, whilst sand stocks and demand vary within and between nations. Sand now used to create places on a larger scale than ever before through reclamation – building land from the sea as well as coastal protection schemes, whilst concurrently industrial uses of specialist sands are also growing, for example hydraulic fracturing sand.
It is time to reconsider the value of sand and its contribution to sustainable development. It is time for stewardship. The presumption of supply of this high bulk, high density, low value commodity requires re-evaluation to ensure continuity of supply into the future.