A crisis is engulfing the Mekong River, its banks are collapsing and half a million people are at risk of losing their homes.
The entire ecosystem of this South East Asian river is under threat, all because of the world’s insatiable demand for sand.
Extracted from the bed of this giant river in Cambodia and Vietnam, sand is one of the Earth’s most sought-after resources. Up to 50 billion tonnes are dredged globally every year – the largest extractive industry on the planet.
“Extraction is happening at absolutely astronomical rates, we’re having an industrial-scale transformation of the shape of the planet,” says river scientist Prof Stephen Darby at Southampton University.