Editor's note

We’re running out of one of the world’s most important resources, so valuable that nations fight over it. But it’s not oil – it’s sand, and we need it for construction, industry, energy production and other uses. With shortages looming and sand mining causing serious environmental harm, some scholars are calling for international rules to manage the use of sand.

Have a hard time getting up this morning? Try spending more time with your friends and family, suggests Royette Tavernier of Wesleyan University. Some studies show that we sleep better when our waking hours are filled with rewarding social activities.

Tonight, the Conversation begins a new partnership with the PBS show “Third Rail with OZY.” Tune in to your local station to hear Malcolm Gladwell, Roxane Gay and Seth Weathers tackle the question: Is truth overrated? Not sure if it is or isn’t? Get better informed with these stories from our archive.

Jennifer Weeks

Editor, Environment and Energy

Top story

Sand for use in hydraulic fracturing operations at a processing plant in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin in 2011. AP Photo/Steve Karnowski)

The world is facing a global sand crisis

Aurora Torres, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research; Jianguo "Jack" Liu, Michigan State University; Jodi Brandt, Boise State University; Kristen Lear, University of Georgia

Overuse of sand for construction and industry is harming the environment and fueling violence around the world. Scientists explain why we need international rules to regulate sand mining and use.

Arts + Culture

Economy + Business

  • How flood insurance works: 6 questions answered

    Robert W. Klein, Georgia State University

    The federal government created a program in 1968 to insure homes in the US from flooding, yet few of the houses hammered by Harvey's record rainfall were covered.

Environment + Energy

Science + Technology

Health + Medicine

Politics + Society

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  • Why can't more American women access medications for preterm birth?

    Jodi Frances Abbott, Boston University

    There are two common medications that prevent preterm birth – and poor black women often can't access either one.

  • Are natural disasters part of God's retribution?

    Mathew Schmalz, College of the Holy Cross

    The question of God's anger is intimately connected to the problem of human suffering. To understand the idea of divine retribution, one needs to know the meaning of suffering.

  • Finger size does matter... in sports

    Grant Tomkinson, University of North Dakota; Makailah Dyer, University of North Dakota

    Athletic ability is often linked to size – of muscles and bones. New studies are suggesting, however, that the relative size of two fingers could be more predictive of ability.

Today’s quote

Only 40 to 50 new Parkinson’s specialists – neurologists with fellowship training in the disease – go into practice each year across this country.

  Michael Okun