February 26th, 2021


Leading Economic Indicators

News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

By News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

Published Sept. 30, 2016

Leading Economic Indicators

Update: News of the Weird reported in 2007 and 2014 that, despite the abundant desert, Middle East developers were buying plenty of beach sand from around the world (because the massive concrete construction in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, among other places, requires coarser sand than the desert grains tempered for centuries by sun and wind). The need has now grown such that London's The Independent reported in June that black market gangs, some violent, are stealing beach sand and that two dozen entire islands in Indonesia have virtually disappeared since 2005 because of sand-mining. [The Independent, 6-23-2016]

Farmers high in Nepal's Himalayas are heavily dependent on harvesting a fungus which, when consumed by humans, supposedly produces effects similar to Viagra's but the region's rising temperatures and diminished rainfall (thought to result from global climate change) threaten the output, according to a June New York Times dispatch. Wealthy Chinese men in Hong Kong and Shanghai may pay the equivalent of $50,000 a pound for the "caterpillar fungus," and about a million Nepalese are involved in the industry, producing about 135 tons a year. (The fungus is from the head of ghost moth larvae living in soil at altitudes of more than 10,000 feet.) [New York Times, 6-27-2016]