Multimedia reporting by Ginna Royalty
Three guys rolled up on a motorcycle outside his house, kicked in the door and shot him dead in his own bed. People are dying over sand.
Vince Beiser spoke to Elon students from Media Writing and Reporting for the Public Good classes on Monday morning and shared knowledge about his ongoing project on the deadly global war for sand. Sand is the most important solid substance in the world; it’s the foundation of modern civilizations.
“We’re running of oil, we’re running out of water, we’re running out of fish—we’re basically consuming too much,” Beiser said. “Sand is really just one aspect of that very few people have heard about.”
Beiser is an award-winning journalist who has worked for publications all over the country including Wired, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Nation, The Village Voice and more. He has exposed conditions in harsh prisons in California, experienced Haiti’s earthquake first hand, and trained with troops going to Iraq.
He started working on the sand project after stumbling across a story on the sand mafia in India. “It blew my mind, I had never even thought about sand. One thing led to another and here I am,” Beiser said.
Beiser shared the importance sand has in our growing world; it makes concrete, windows, pavement, glass, and even the silicon chips in computers. We use 50 billion tons of it every year, and now we’re running out of it.
Everywhere all over the world, our cities are made of sand. Sand is being dug up from beaches and fields all over the world to make concrete and other materials. Countries are getting desperate; Dubai is buying sand from Australia.
“There’s no other substance in the world that we have 50 billion tons of. Sand is the most common substance in the world,” Beiser said. “The only real solution is we have to change out whole way of living.”