The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization

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We are surrounded by sand. Not only on our beaches and for recreation, sand is used for, among many other things, the concrete in our buildings and roadways, the glass in our windows, the microprocessing chips in our computers. Author Vince Beiser presents the compelling thesis that our modern civilization is built, literally, on sand – and it’s a resource that is running out.

As Beiser builds his case, readers learn that the sand we use most is the sand in shortest supply – the sands of the Sahara are not suitable for most industrial or technological uses – but the sand under the beautiful rolling farmlands of Wisconsin is, for example, or the sand from the tropical beaches or riverbeds. With every advancement in our sand-based economy, there is an associated cost – while the use of cement allows us to travel more easily, or to make better buildings at a much cheaper cost, we are destroying our environment and even our futures. Sand is so valuable a resource that a huge black market for the stuff exists, accompanied by individual and organized crime, violence, even murder. The criminal removal of sand from riverbanks and shorelines threatens current infrastructure. How sand became so fundamental to modern life is a fascinating story, but the current state of its use and depletion is even more compelling. This book takes you on an amazing journey of discovery and disclosure, leading to an alarming conclusion that only better use of all resources can forestall. Sand is important, and vanishing. How will we respond?


Reviewed By:

Author Vince Beiser
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher Riverhead Books
Publish Date 2018-08-07
ISBN 9780399576423
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2019
Category Science & Nature
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