A Global Sand Mining Crisis

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In this Friday, May 2, 2014 photo, a gold miner carries special carpets that are used to filter sand for gold at an illegal mine in La Pampa in the Madre de Dios region of Peru.
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Sand is a crucial material for making concrete, asphalt, and glass — the building blocks of our cities. It's a main ingredient in our windows, and in our roads, but because of an unprecedented increase in urban growth, a global boom in construction is using up vast amounts of the valuable material, especially in Asia.

According to Vince Beiser, a journalist who has been covering the global sand crisis with the support of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, China has used more cement in recent years than the United States did in the whole of the 20th century. Beiser explains how the construction boom is causing widespread environmental damage worldwide.