The sand is about to finish. Is sand really going extinct, and is there a crisis coming up because of its shortage for construction purposes? When talking about exhaustion of earth resources, we think about oil, water, minerals ... But about sand – not really. We see it as an inexhaustible natural resource that can be found on beaches and in deserts. Is it possible that we could be wrong? It is being said that the sand drastically decreases, that world beaches have greatly shrunk, while at the same time its price has increased fivefold for the past 30 years. The construction industry consumes huge amounts of sand and the reason for the shortage is the construction boom caused by the migration of the population to the cities. At the same time popular resorts revive their dying beaches with sand brought from other places. Worldwide, about 50 billion tons of sand are used each year - twice as much as the quantity produced by the rivers for the same period. That is why the black market of this important construction component begins to thrive, the media warns us. Does the sand problem really exist?
Since the 1970s, mankind has been exhausting in an increasingly shorter time the amount of natural resources which the planet can recover within a year. Thirty years ago, it happened on October 15, and in 2018, on August 1, we began to live on an "ecological credit", a publication in Guardian informs us. For several years now, the media have been massively publishing the information that, from a certain date, mankind begins to live on credit, and the so-called ecological debt day is reached earlier every year. We start to withdraw from the "principal" of our biosphere, instead of living on its "interest rate," WWF experts warn. They compare over-consumption with a gardener who not only eats the fruit from his tree but also cuts his stem little by little. And the price at which we have to redeem our "debt" is very high. But how are these calculations made and to what extend they reflect the reality?
The end of the cocoa
the date of January 1, 2020. When that day comes, the gap between world cocoa
consumption and production will increase to 1 million tons, according to Mars
and Barry Callebaut, which are among the world's largest chocolate producers.
The projected deficit, which will increase to 2 million tons by 2030, is due to
disease, drought, new insatiable markets, and the fact that cocoa is gradually being
replaced by more productive crops such as maize and rubber plant. As you read
these lines, the world is exhausting the quantities of chocolate”, wrote the
luxury magazine Bloomberg Pursuits in 2014. Since then, a number of other
publications predicting the end of chocolate have come out, but there have been
also materials claiming that the chocolate market had reached its point of
saturation. What should we believe in? Is the end of chocolate really approaching?
To awaken reason or to make noise
do all these messages in the media indicate - a genuine concern for nature or
just another attempt to "sell" fear. Yes, fear is a commonly used
tool in marketing that aims to drive the audience to action. But would the fear
of exhaustion of resources make mankind live smarter, or is it a noise that would
only affect the price? Isn’t the trade in emission allowances simply a
manifestation of hypocritical concern about nature? Some believe that the
anxiety about the exhaustion of resources indicates either the beginning of a
crisis of surplus or a focus on alternative technologies. Back in the
nineteenth century, concern was raised that coal is about to be depleted, and
today the only demand is for its yield to be stopped. From time to time, panic
that oil will end is also created. In 1914, the US Mining Agency claimed that
the country had oil reserves for just 10 more years. In 1939, the Department of
the Interior declared that US oil reserves would be exhausted in 13 years. In
the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter announced that we would probably run out of
all discovered oil reserves in the world by the end of the next decade. Yet, in
2019, we still have solid oil deposits, and adding those still to be discovered
through new extraction technologies.
The human footprint
Nature has its own mechanisms of self-regulation, which does not relieve us of responsibility for everything we do on earth with its resources, with consumption and with rubbish, not at all. Things are a lot more complicated than the statement that nature has given us something "on credit" and we must use it carefully, so that there is enough remaining for those coming after us. There are much more serious arguments for the rational consumption and exploitation of natural riches than the fear that tomorrow the earth will drown. Conservationists use the IPPT formula: The Impact = Population x Prosperity x Technologies. According to it, the more people there are, the richer they are and the more technology they have, the more they damage the environment. In reality, however, man's footprint on nature is decreasing precisely because of new technologies. The higher the productivity of factories and mines, the more efficient the farms, the less we will be harming nature.
Every era and civilization use certain resources. Also, humanity has a very important resource - the human mind. Innovators always find solutions to any problem and any need. Panic may be unnecessary, unless it pursues other goals. Still, let’s live wisely!