Right now, the state of California is in a historic, very serious drought. Some projections say that there is only enough water for one more year if something doesn’t change – and fast! The really bad news is that the rainy season is typically over with by the end of March or middle of April, though sometimes it can linger a bit longer. But here’s the really bad news: most of California’s water comes not in the form of rain, but as melt-water from the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada range. The most recent statistic I’ve heard said that the snow pack is only 12% of normal – meaning the water situation is only going to get worse!
If only we could ship some water from the Amazon to California! Today’s photo was taken on one of the peque-peque’s (their word for a water-taxi) that ply the Maranon and other waterways in Peru. We happened to be on one, heading upstream, when I took this picture. It was raining, it was windy, the boat was heavily loaded and the sides didn’t extend all that far above the water with the load we’d put in it. And to top it off, there weren’t enough life jackets for everyone (folks don’t worry about that kind of stuff in most of the world)…and then I learned that the young lady seated next to me didn’t know how to swim! (I then started picturing scenarios where I’d grab a life jacket and share it with her if necessary…not very heroic, eh?)
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1989, the worst oil spill in U.S. territory began when the supertanker Exxon Valdez,owned and operated by the Exxon Corporation, ran aground on a reef in Prince William Sound in southern Alaska. An estimated 11 million gallons of oil eventually spilled into the water. Attempts to contain the massive spill were unsuccessful, and wind and currents spread the oil more than 100 miles from its source, eventually polluting more than 700 miles of coastline. Hundreds of thousands of birds and animals were adversely affected by the environmental disaster.
It was later revealed that Joseph Hazelwood, the captain of the Valdez, was drinking at the time of the accident and allowed an uncertified officer to steer the massive vessel. In March 1990, Hazelwood was convicted of misdemeanor negligence, fined $50,000, and ordered to perform 1,000 hours of community service. In July 1992, an Alaska court overturned Hazelwood’s conviction, citing a federal statute that grants freedom from prosecution to those who report an oil spill.
Exxon itself was condemned by the National Transportation Safety Board and in early 1991 agreed under pressure from environmental groups to pay a penalty of $100 million and provide $1 billion over a 10-year period for the cost of the cleanup. However, later in the year, both Alaska and Exxon rejected the agreement, and in October 1991 the oil giant settled the matter by paying $25 million, less than 4 percent of the cleanup aid promised by Exxon earlier that year.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Holes drilled as deep as 5 miles into the Earth’s reveal that the rock temperature increases about 37 degrees Fahrenheit per 320 feet. Even on the deepest sea floor, rock remains slightly above freezing.