Apart from water and air, humble sand is the natural resource most consumed by human beings, using 40 billion tons of sand and gravel every year. And the recent worldwide construction boom—all those mushrooming megacities, from Lagos to Beijing—is devouring unprecedented quantities. In some places multinational companies dredge it up with massive machines; in others local people haul it away with shovels and pickup trucks. Everywhere, sand mining wreaks havoc.
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