I ran across a news item that reminds me of an old joke, which I will make generic because I’ve already offended my quota of people this year —
Q: What do you have when three (fill in the blank) are buried up to their necks in sand?
A: A shortage of sand!
I thought of this because, unbelievably, we are facing a shortage of sand.
Like me, you probably haven’t considered this, but sand is actually the third most-consumed natural resource. As an essential ingredient in concrete, silicon and glass, it’s necessary to our modern economy. And we’re running out of it.
How could we be running out when beaches are full of it? That’s just the problem — take too much, and the beaches erode. There are only so many deposits suitable for mining, and the situation has become so serious that countries are banning its export, and organized crime is moving in. A good explanation is “World Faces Global Sand Shortage” from the July 21, 2017 broadcast of “Morning Edition” on National Public Radio (http://www.npr.org/2017/07/21/538472671/world-faces-global-sand-shortage ).
And I always figured the next major international shortage would be fresh water.