Multimedia reporting by Christina Elias
Freelance journalist Vince Beiser introduces his presentation about his recent in-depth reporting series about the danger of the global sand industry.

Freelance journalist Vince Beiser has been traveling the world and dodging mafias on a mission to find sand.

During his visit to Elon University Feb. 27, he spoke to students about the investigative work he’s been doing in various parts of the world to uncover the mega-industry that has been built on sand. According to Beiser, that industry won’t last long at the rate many companies and countries are harvesting their natural sand stores.

Sand is actually the most important solid substance in the world,” Beiser said. “It’s the literal foundation of modern civilization … Everywhere all over the world, our cities are made out of sand.”

According to Beiser, that industry will soon hit a wall. “Believe it or not, we are starting to run out of sand,” he said. “… Why? Because cities are growing like never before.”

Because sand has become such a coveted commodity, violence has exploded in certain parts of the world over quickly-disappearing sand.

Beiser has written for Wired, The Atlantic, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Harpers, Mother Jones, Playboy and The New York Times. His most recent pieces on the topics have been published by The Guardian, Wired and The New York Times.

Beiser came to Elon through the university’s partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, which has funded Beiser’s reporting.


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