How the global appetite for sand is fuelling a crisis

Sand, a key ingredient in concrete, has helped fuel construction booms and land reclamation around the world. But careless and sometimes illicit sand extraction has destabilized bridges and roads, wrecked ecosystems and stolen riverbanks and coastlines. It has led to water shortages and salt-water intrusion into farmer fields, killing crops. Those who work in the sand-mining industry often find themselves in precarious, exploitive and dangerous jobs.

Today in The Conversation Canada, Melissa Marschke from the University of Ottawa and her colleagues write about the crisis fuelled by urbanization and our seemingly boundless appetite for sand.

Also today:


Hannah Hoag

Deputy Editor | Environment + Energy Editor

Non-Coronavirus News

A sand mine in Nepal. Growing urbanization and its need for concrete is fuelling a global sand crisis. (Michael Hoffmann)

Roving bandits and looted coastlines: How the global appetite for sand is fuelling a crisis

Melissa Marschke, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa; Jean-François Rousseau, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa; Laura Schoenberger, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa; Michael Hoffmann, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

As sand markets boom, entrepreneurs, organized crime and others are cashing in — leaving widespread environmental damage in their wake.

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Diane R. Collier, Brock University; Mia Perry, University of Glasgow

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Babies around the world love ‘baby-talk’ and it can help them learn language too. (Richard Sagredo/Unsplash)

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Melanie Soderstrom, University of Manitoba; Michael C. Frank, Stanford University

New research shows that babies around the world love baby talk — and when adults baby talk to them it is good for their language development.

Coronavirus News

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Andrea Freeman, University of Hawaii

Trump’s recent executive order to keep meat plants open is premised on a lie: that a meat shortage is a food shortage.

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Louise Grogan, University of Guelph; Lucia Costanzo, University of Guelph

Now that Canadian youth can work part-time without becoming ineligible for government assistance, many will be incentivized to work in jobs in increased demand during the COVID-19 shutdown.

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Felix Arndt, University of Guelph; David Crick, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa; Ricarda B. Bouncken, Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies

The coronavirus pandemic is an exceptionally challenging time for start-ups. Here's a guide to help new businesses survive.


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The feedback form regular readers was better than the feedback from professional economicsts.

La Conversation Canada

Des travailleurs dirigent des clients alignés dans un centre communautaire pour des dons de nourriture à Montréal-Nord, le quartier le plus touché du Québec par la Covid-19, le 30 avril. C'est aussi l'un des quartiers les plus pauvres au pays. La Presse Canadienne/Paul Chiasson

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Les épidémies révèlent les inégalités tolérées en temps « normal » mais qui auront ont un impact délétère sur la santé d'une population si des mesures ne sont pas prises pour compenser ces injustices.

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