Vanishing Sands: How Sand Mining is Stripping Away Earth’s Beaches by Orrin Pilkey, et al – Duke | Nicholas School of the Environment
A new book from Duke University Press, “Vanishing Sands: Losing Beaches to Mining,” casts light on the shadowy world of sand mining through case studies that illuminate its disastrous impacts and a concluding chapter that proposes common-sense solutions.
Because of the tradition of viewing beaches as public land, people have historically thought of beach sand as a free and limitless resource, Pilkey and his co-authors explain in their preface to “Vanishing Sands…”
As global demand outstripped the supply that could be economically sourced from conventional inland sand pits, beach sand was deemed a suitable substitute, partly because it has angular grains that adhere to each other and, theoretically at least, improve the durability of any material or matrix they’re mixed into, and partly because it could be sourced from nearby dunes and beaches at practically no cost.
Excavators, bulldozers and dump trucks soon replaced buckets and wheelbarrows.
By 2020, entire beaches and dune systems in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, South America and the eastern United States had been stripped bare…
In addition to documenting large-scale sand mining’s adverse impacts in nine vividly written chapters, “Vanishing Sands” provides a list of science-based recommendations—Pilkey and his co-authors call them “truths and solutions”—for ending the damage.
“Coastal sand exploitation is rapidly spreading in this time of sea-level rise and intensifying storms. Such mining is slowly destroying the protective nature and touristic value of beaches on a global scale,” they write. “Ultimately, the solutions must (include)an inexpensive substitute for sand to be used in concrete…an end to coastal sand mining, and a systematic move landward as the sea rises. Here’s hoping that some wisdom will prevail…”
Co-authors of the new book are Norma Longo, a geologist, photographer and longtime colleague of Pilkey’s at the Nicholas School; William Neal, emeritus professor of geology at Grand Valley State University; Nelson Rangel-Buitrago, professor of geology, geophysics and marine research at the Universidad del Atlantico in Colombia; Keith Pilkey, an attorney concerned with issues of coastal development; and Hannah Hayes, a scholar of land rights, disaster capitalism and risk management.
In celebration of Coastal Care’s 10 Year Anniversary, we are republishing an acclaimed selection of the most popular Beach Of the Month contributions of the decade.
Forewarning about the path and future disastrous evolution of Hurricane Harvey proved to be quite accurate. Hurricane Harvey may be an example of the long-predicted intensification of storms resulting from the warming of the seas.
In the December 16 issue of Science, an insightful article about sea-level rise argues that there is a good possibility that the increase will exceed six feet by 2100.
Professors Orrin Pilkey and Andrew Cooper are writing what promises to be an outstanding book. In The Last Beach (to be published this summer by Duke University Press), they describe the top five threats to beaches around the world. Even a quick overview of these threats suggests a strategy for confronting the degradation and loss of beaches.
A Guide to Understanding Mathematical Models Used to Predict Beach Behavior, For Those Who Had a Hard Time With Algebra
Many of you may have read environmental impact statements or engineering design documents or have attended public hearings about plans to engineer beaches. You suspect that the plan is flawed but you find yourself up against a brick wall in the form of a mathematical model. You are not the only one…
On the surface, it looks like America is a place where scientists and scientific achievements are held in high regard. However, just below the surface, there is another America. This America is populated by people who, on economic, political or religious grounds, have chosen to reject the consensus of the global scientific community on various topics. By Alexander Glass and Orrin Pilkey.
As ocean waters warm, the Northeast is likely to face more Sandy-like storms. And as sea levels continue to rise, the surges of these future storms will be higher and even more deadly. We can’t stop these powerful storms. But we can reduce the deaths and damage they cause… An Op Ed by Orrin H. Pilkey.
Patrick Michaels is a long time (and very effective) denier of the importance of global climate change. He provides the ammunition for those who are predisposed to ignoring Mother Earth’s realities…