Pulitzer Center Update

This Week: The World's Disappearing Sand

August 02, 2016|

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Bali sand mine

An illegal sand mine in Bali. Image by Vince Beiser. Indonesia, 2016.

Built on Sand
Vince Beiser

Our civilization is built on sand. This may sound like a metaphor, but it isn’t. Sand actually is the key ingredient in the production of concrete, glass, asphalt and silicon. And as grantee Vince Beiser explains in this interview with WYPR, Baltimore’s public radio station, “sand is the essential ingredient that makes modern life possible. And, incredibly, we are starting to run out.” To report this story, Vince traveled to China and Cambodia. As populations explode and mega-cities expand, “there’s so much demand that riverbeds and beaches are being stripped bare, ocean beds denuded, and landscapes devastated.”

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One Crisis Breeds Another
Nadja Drost and Bruno Federico

Grantees Nadja Drost and Bruno Federico report that as Venezuela’s economy collapses—mainly a result of falling oil prices—an environmental disaster looms along the shores of Lake Maracaibo, which sits atop the country’s oil reserves.

Wretched Excess
Julia Barton and Misha Friedman

Ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych lived lavishly while ordinary citizens suffered. Grantees Julia Barton and Misha Friedman take you on a tour of his over-the-top former residence.