Except for water and air, sand is the natural resource that we consume more than any other - more than oil, more than natural gas. Every concrete building and paved road on Earth, every computer screen and silicon chip, exists because of sand. From Egypt's pyramids to the Hubble telescope, from the world's tallest skyscraper to the sidewalk below it, from Chartres' stained-glass windows to Chihuly sculptures to your iPhone, sand shelters us, empowers us, engages us, and inspires us. And we're running out of it.
"When we're lounging on a sunny beach in Hawaii or Florida, sipping a margarita and texting a friend back home, few of us realize that the sand beneath our feet is as important for our mobile devices and the hotels standing behind us as it is for our tropical vacation. In fact, sand is the third most consumable substance on this earth, behind air and water. Without it, as veteran science writer Beiser reports in this fascinating if sometimes unsettling volume, our civilization would not even exist in its current form. Sand, comprised mostly of naturally ground quartz, when mixed with cement supplies a full 70-percent of the ingredients in concrete, which forms most of our buildings and roads. Along with describing sand's critical role in the manufacturing of glass and silicon chips, Beiser also tracks the complicated process of sand mining and exposes its little seen dark side, including widespread landscape destruction, species endangerment, and even a sand mafia in India. A vital addition to every library collection's coverage of resource exploitation and environmental issues.--Carl Hays Copyright 2018 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"What does sand-the humble stuff of beaches and dunes-have to do with the making of the contemporary world? Quite a lot, actually, says journalist Beiser. He argues that sand, with its extraordinary range of properties, including durability and pliancy, is "the most important solid substance on earth... that makes modern life possible." Sand is the key ingredient in concrete buildings and highways; in the form of glass, it is "the thing that lets us see everything" through windows, microscope lenses, eyeglasses, and smartphone screens. But due to the explosion in its uses and the increasing number and size of cities, sand is running out: the book is at its urgent best in chapters on the black market in sand and the sand mafias that brutally exercise control over resources in places like Raipur Khadar, a farming village south of New Delhi, whose ecosystem has been plundered by the demand for sand. The flip side of the story of modern life is, of course, the story of ecological devastation: Beiser moves from the denuded beaches of St. Vincent, in the Caribbean, to the replanted deserts of Inner Mongolia, showing the true cost of the "sand wars." Breezily written and with insights on every page, this is an eye-opening look at a resource too often taken for granted. Agent: Lisa Bankoff, ICM. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Technology and civilization.
|| New York :Riverhead Books,2018
294 pages ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 281-284) and index.