Sand is the essential ingredient that makes modern life possible and we are starting to run out because the number and size of cities is exploding.To build cities, untold amounts of sand is pulled out of the ground. Usable sand is a finite resource. Desert sand, doesn’t work well for construction, so we are stripping riverbeds, floodplains and beaches - an estimated $70 billion industry - from multinational companies’ deploying enormous dredges to villagers toting shovels and buckets. This inflicts terrible costs on the environment. In India, river sand mining is disrupting ecosystems, killing countless fish and birds. Sand miners have damaged coral reefs.In 2012 alone the world used enough concrete to build a wall 89 feet high and 89 feet wide around the Equator. From 2011 to 2013, China used more cement than the United States used in the entire 20th century.