Listen: We Are Using So Much Sand and We're Running Out
"So sand. There's a lot of it so much so the way back in the day archimedes one of our favorite people mm-hmm used it in a thought experiment called the sand reckoner and in the sand reckoner he basically he created the to start figuring out how to how to create eight numbers to express extraordinarily large values because Eddie used for still yeah just because there's so much of it. It's either depends. There's the world is divided into two types of people chuck people who point to the stars as an enormous number example of enormous enormous number of people who point just sand and then people like us that use big. MACs that's right. That's true that size though not number it size it could be length member. We've stacked them to the moon before your but so archimedes came up with the base of one hundred million that's what he started with and he figured out how to how to express the numbers up to eight times ten to the sixty third power with the sand reckoner thing and the point of it is is like yes. There is a ton of sand a lot of sand so much so I've seen that there's seven and a half billion billion grains of sand just on the world's beaches that's from University of Hawaii. I saw another one from a Chris Flynn from to Orla Observatory in Finland. He estimated a million billion billion grains of sand just on the world's beaches so I'm just going to say it could Jillian Jillian bazillion because apparently yes yeah but there's a lot but the point point is this there is a lot of sand especially depending on the math and the green of the grain size that kind of stuff but there's a finite amount of sand end and what's been going on behind the scenes for decades now is a very rapid depletion of the the available sources of saying so much so that it is literally being shuffled from one part of the world to another from poorer countries to wealthier country sometimes from some inland areas out to other areas from the rural areas to the cities There's a huge sand shuffled going going on and it is proving pretty rough for the environment as a result. Yeah I mean first of all. I'm forty eight years old and this is the first I've really heard of this like I I don't know I thought that was just enough sand for all the time you would think so. I mean look at a desert. That's a lot of saying right right but here's the deal we use about fifteen billion tonnes for just construction every year and they are mining worldwide about forty billion tons of sandy year. I think that sand and gravel but still well. I do know that it is I think with gravel. There's a UN report called sand and sustainability. I love that report from UNICEF United Nations Environment Programme so crushed rock sand and gravel account for the largest volume of extracted solid material. We'll worldwide okay so you're saying like more than oil more than natural gas more than any other as solid material yeah okay. I think so. I'm not sure what they mean by. That is is oil a solid. I don't know so I saw also put his like as far as extractable raw material sand and gravel aval is by far the most extensively mined said and we'll get to it in detail but the spoiler here is although new sand is being made constantly by erosion which also gonNA cover not nearly nearly quickly enough are used as far far or out basing it yeah which makes sand non-renewable resource technically just like oil like yeah is is if you know the the environmental conditions are right over time new oil will be made but we're talking over very long periods saying doesn't take nearly as long to form as oil does but it's still takes way longer to replenish itself than and then we're using it up. That's right so let's talk a little bit about thing yeah so we get sand. Santa's the final product I guess I even hate calling it a product but I don't mean it in the sense of something to be bought and sold even though it is but it's the final product of erosion from everything I'm from water and wind of course to ice and land liking glaciers grinding against own graduates sand and volcanic lava even when that stuff chills and then shatters when it makes contact with air. That's how you get lava sand like the black sand in Hawaii. Yeah and that's that's really good is a soil soil mentor apparently because it's like a locked in carbon. I believe right yeah I mean I'm sure it's at the red clay here in Georgia. Sure in your cooking you're you're cooking with volcanic ash that's right there's also rain the mile bid of like acid that isn't rain instill even though we we beat acid rain beat it bad there there's still some in there always whether's rock so that helps her road rocks and create sand two and then you've got geological sources of saying which is just straight up rocks you also have biological sources of sand things like coral four. ORMAN era. I believe four Minera no forum Farah I got it. I got very very very tiny shelled creatures that that produce like white or pink San sometimes and then there's also we get sand from the poop of the Parrot Fish did you did you hear about about that yeah. We talked about that before did we. It didn't strike me It didn't ring a bell at all yeah it was it was either. I don't think it was doing. I feel like it was further. It must have been coral reefs. Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah. That's it because they actually eat parts of the coral reef accidentally while they're eating food and there's guts grind up the reef and then they poop out pure beautiful white sand like hundreds of pounds of white sand a year yet but when you really are talking about sand most of us think of a sand we're thinking wind and Water Generale Array rivers and then in the desert of course wind right and then the desert we must have talked about this in San Dunes that the desert's are just ancient beaches teaches them old like seabeds and things like that riverbed sometimes it's right and as far as what sand is literally you know it's parts of Rock seventy percent the hardest parts of rock seventy percent of sand is courts but you've also got gypsum in there. You Got Limestone. we already we talked about lava like there are other compositions and it really depends on what kind of Sandra GonNa have on obviously what kind of rock it came from like where you are in the world right and then if you're an engineer or somebody who makes use of sand they they typically don't classify or categorize it by composition they more interested in the size so sanders if there's not one universal definition which I found kind of surprising thing but depending on who you ask it is civil engineering today says it's a small grain of rock finer than gravel coarser within silt the American Society for testing materials they produce their standard practice for classification of soils for engineering engineering purposes unified soil classification system. That's all when title they say that. Sand is particles of soil between seventy five microns in and four point seven five millimeters in size. That's a big piece of sand and it comes in course medium and fine and this is extraordinarily boring. I understand that fully but it points out the fact that sand is still a rock. It's just a very very tiny size rock right like there's gravel their silt sand in between but it's still rock. It's just a different size as far as like engineers and construction people are concerned right and depending on again and what kind of rocket came from and what it's made of where you get it and how it was formed. The shape is going to be different. it can be very rough. It can be very smooth around the river sand which is what's mainly used in construction is irregular and they need that irregular shape for that kind of construction. Yep because the the the middle sort of sand which is the smoother ocean sand isn't as good and desert sandwiches. The Creme de la Creme of sand very very polished very uniform and smooth around turns out is not good at all for construction no so so the three types of San that we find on earth are river which is irregularly shaped ocean which is smooth and desert which is Billy Dee"