Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
Millions of dollars worth of sand being dumped on Hollywood Beach, FL. Image: Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel
Aside from it feeling soft or hot on our toes, most of us don’t give sand much thought when going to the beach. However, beach nourishment, or beach filling, is the practice of adding large quantities of sand or sediment to beaches to combat erosion and increase beach width and coastal cities around the world are being forced to closely manage their beach sand. Since the 1950s Florida alone has spent $1.3 billion on nourishment but because of storms and sea-level rise nearly half the state’s 825 miles of beaches are now considered “critically eroded” and they need new sand brought in each year.
So where do you get more sand? That’s a tricky question as most sand is mined within 50 miles of where it is used and becomes very expensive to move over long distances. This means that each coastal region is quite protective of its sand, often making the supply for beach nourishment limited. This is especially a problem for a state like Florida. As the Guardian explained,
“Northern Florida has more sand to spare than the southern coast but Dietch said there’s “tension” because the northern counties “don’t want their sand being excavated and barged to Miami-Dade county”. Places like the Carolinas also guard their sand jealously. So Surfside and many other Florida resorts turn to a sand mine near Lake Okeechobee north of the Everglades wilderness area.”
The Ecological Toll of Sand Mining: We need sand for beach erosion but also for industrial processes like making concrete. Unfortunately, digging up sand isn’t just the largest mining endeavor globally but also comes with a heavy environmental toll. Not only does the extraction of sand prevent rivers from absorbing floodwaters but there are notable other environmental issues as well. The Guardian summed it up:
“From Cambodia to California, industrial-scale sand mining is causing wildlife to die, local trade to wither and bridges to collapse. And booming urbanization means the demand for this increasingly valuable resource is unlikely to let up.”
Why This Matters: Experts are predicting that states like Florida will soon experience a “sand crisis” as climate change fuels sea-level rise as well as stronger and more frequent hurricanes that perpetually wash away sand from beaches. Senator Marco Rubio R-FL, who doesn’t acknowledge the full challenge of climate change, recently introduced a bill to allow Florida to purchase sand from the Bahamas (currently importing sand from foreign countries is not permitted). In so doing, we would outsource the environmental degradation associated with sand extraction to poorer countries. This is a complicated problem but we need our lawmakers to acknowledge that our shortage of sand is being fueled, in large part, by the climate crisis.
By Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Pedro Bay Corp., an Alaska Native group, has struck a blow to the controversial Pebble Mine project, which had promised to be the largest gold mine in North America. Located near Alaska’s famed Bristol Bay, development on the site threatened to damage the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, […]
A battle is raging in Nevada as the U.S. Fish, and Wildlife Service announces it will be listing Tiehm’s buckwheat flower as an endangered species, striking a blow to a lithium mining project in the region. Lithium is required for the batteries that power electric vehicles, which the government is making significant investments in to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint. But environmentalists argue that the Rhyolite Ridge lithium mine in Nevada will do more harm than good.
Why This Matters: The world is facing two major crises: global temperature rise and biodiversity loss. In the U.S., investing in renewable energy and electric power has been identified by experts as the quickest path to net-zero emissions and preventing catastrophic temperature rise.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The American agriculture system is in need of an overhaul. A combination of more erratic weather resulting from climate change and years of soil depletion make it nearly impossible to simply continue monoculture farming. An approach called regenerative agriculture could change the system. But even as farmers and agriculture […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.