The battle to curb our appetite for concrete
Alongside this environmental damage, the building industry is also a major contributor to greenhouse gases - cement manufacturing alone accounts for 7% of global CO2 emissions. In many countries, sand is often extracted illegally from beaches or river beds. But once sand is taken from a river, the water flow can become faster and more violent - and the water table alongside a river will fall, affecting farming along the river bank. Dredging beaches for sand increases coastal communities' vulnerability to storm damage - because sandy beaches act as sponges absorbing a storm's excess energy - something that is increasingly likely because of climate change. Image copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionHurricane Michael earlier this month - sandy beaches can play a key role in absorbing a storm's impact "The problem is that the demand for sand is outpacing what we know about the environmental impact of extraction," saysDr Aurora Torres of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)."It is a hidden ecological disaster." The world's deserts may be awash with sand but this is of no use for construction, because erosion means desert sand grains are too rounded and smooth to be useful. The best kind are the grittier, more angular sand grains found in riverbeds or beaches. So far our appetite for sand and gravel shows no sign of slowing down.The OECD estimates we use 27 billion tonnes a yearin construction and that this will double to 55 billion tonnes by 2060.
Posted: 15:22:29 - 26/10/2018


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