In a time of accelerating sea level rise and increasingly intensifying storms, the world's sandy beaches and dunes have never been more crucial to protecting coastal environments. Yet, in order to meet the demands of large-scale construction projects, sand mining is stripping beaches and dunes, destroying environments, and exploiting labour in the process. The authors of Vanishing Sands track the devastating impact of legal and illegal sand mining over the past twenty years, ranging from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean to South America and the eastern United States. They show how sand mining has reached crisis levels: beach, dune, and river ecosystems are in danger of being lost forever, while organized crime groups use deadly force to protect their illegal mining operations. Calling for immediate and widespread resistance to sand mining, the authors demonstrate that its cessation is paramount for saving not only beaches, dunes, and associated environments but also lives and tourism economies everywhere.
1. Who’s Mining the Shore? 1
2. Sand: Earth’s Most Remarkable Mineral Resource 21
3. Singapore Sand Bandits: Sitting on Asia’s Sandpile 43
4. The Sands of Crime: Mafia, Sand Robbers, and Law Benders 56
5. Sand Rivers to the Beach: Choked Flow 77
6. Barbuda and Other Islands: Lessons from the Caribbean 97
7. A Summoner’s Thirteen Tales: South America’s Coastal Sand Mining 118
8. A Different Kind of Sand Mining: Legal but Destructive 143
9. Africa Sands: Desert Abundance—Coastal Dearth 167
10. Beach Mining: Truths and Solutions 185
Appendix A. Sand Mining Violent Events 195
Appendix B. Sand Rights: Bringing Back Reason 197
Orrin H. Pilkey is Emeritus James B. Duke Professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Duke University and the author and co-author of many books. Norma J. Longo, a geologist and photographer, is a co-author of several books on coastal issues with Pilkey. William J. Neal, Emeritus Professor of Geology at Grand Valley State University, is an expert on ocean and Great Lakes shoreline evolution and coauthor of many books with Pilkey. Nelson G. Rangel-Buitrago is a Professor in the Geology, Geophysics, and Marine-Research Group at the Universidad del Atlántico, Barranquilla, Colombia, and a prolific author of coastal science studies. Keith C. Pilkey, an attorney concerned with legal issues of coastal development, is co-author of two books about sea level rise. Hannah L. Hayes is a scholar of changing land rights, disaster capitalism, and risk management in Barbuda and Fiji.
"The authors combine their enthralling case studies with actionable suggestions: governments should buy coastal lands 'to create management units,' for instance. Beachgoers, policymakers, and builders alike will something to consider in this shocking study."
– Publishers Weekly
"An informative, detailed, extensively documented scholarly examination of sand mining and its associated issues that will appeal to geologists, environmentalists, and those concerned about climate change."
– Sue O'Brien, Library Journal
"We're used to thinking of sand as an endless resource – even the metaphor for an endless resource, 'as plentiful as grains of sand on a beach.' But as this book makes clear, that view is sadly and completely mistaken. It's time to understand how valuable sand really is."
– Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
"A real eye-opener into the latest tragedy happening to our coast – the theft of sand on a massive scale as entire beaches and dunes are trucked and shipped away. Globally researched and richly illustrated, this book exposes and documents the ongoing tragedy, occurring at a time when our coasts need more sand than ever to combat the extreme stress of massive coastal development and climate changes. A must-read for anyone who cares about the coast."
– Andrew D. Short, author of Australian Coastal Systems: Beaches, Barriers, and Sediment Compartments