The Relativity of Scarcity

Where do the Dutch get their sand from and how do they organize this? Are the Dutch currently confronted with sand scarcity, or will they be in the future?

Organisator Studium Generale

ma 27 mei 2019 20:00 tot 22:00

Locatie The Spot, Orion, gebouwnummer 103

Where do the Dutch get their sand from and how do they organize this? Geologist Michiel van der Meulen shares his insights on sand supplies in the Netherlands. Are the Dutch currently confronted with sand scarcity, as suggested by the media, or is this to be expected in the future? Learn how sand used in the Netherlands is supplied by marine extraction, land-based extraction, and imports – and what explains this particular mix. Van der Meulen argues that scarcity is a matter of your definition of scarcity, and that sand availability does not equal sand accessibility. What economic and ecological issues should we take into account when conceptualizing scarcity? Find out why sand scarcity is more than a technical matter, and explore its political and governance dimensions.

About Michiel van der Meulen

Michiel van der Meulen

Michiel van der Meulen studied geology at Utrecht University. After obtaining his PhD in 1999, he started working on mineral resources and supplies at Rijkswaterstaat (directorate-general of Public Works and Water Management). In 2003, Michiel joined the Geological Survey of the Netherlands (Geologische Dienst Nederland, part of TNO (the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research)), where he continued working on minerals and the relationship between land use and geology. Since 2006, he held various management positions, and his scope and responsibilities have broadened to supplying geological information in general.

About The World of Sand (21-28 May)

Sand. Ordinary and incredibly diverse. Beautiful. Omnipresent and becoming scarce at the same time. In this theme week, Studium Generale explores the many aspects of this versatile material. What it looks like, how it sounds, how we source it, what you can do with it and, especially, its growing scarcity and the consequences this has.

Did you know that sand is the most consumed raw material on earth after fresh water? And that your smartphone wouldn’t exist without it? It is used for buildings, infrastructure, glass, computers, cosmetics and detergents – omnipresent things in our daily lives. With visions of deserts in your mind it might be hard to imagine, but did you ever realize that sand is a finite source, and actually becoming scarcer? And that the increasing pressure on this resource may have serious implications, ranging from sand conflicts and ecological destruction, to compromised food production and flood protection?

Delve into the everyday and at the same time unknown world of sand, and explore its special nature and role from various angles. Admire its beauty and diversity, and find out why sand has so many different uses. Discover where we get it from and how we extract it. Learn about the social and ecological effects of sand extraction, and discuss what role science and policy could play in promoting sustainable sand use.