I plan to spend the day reviewing some papers and grading some quizzes here in sunny (for the moment) western Oregon, but not before a short brain-dump about an event that occurred 47 years ago.
I remember the first Earth Day in 1970. I was 21, about to graduate with a BS in Geology from the College of William and Mary, get married, and head to the wild west - Tucson, Arizona, and the University of Arizona where I would study a new field, hydrology. It was a great excuse for many (but not moi) to skip classes but I actually helped do something useful: build a dam.
Build a dam? On Earth Day? Did we not get the message down there in the Colonial Capital of the Old Dominion?
Runoff (I knew some hydrologic terms even then) from a construction site was dumping (I knew enviro-lingo even then - 'dumping', not 'transporting' or 'depositing') sediment into our beloved Lake Matoaka, hallowed site of many ancient and sacred rituals (annual 3.2 beer can regatta, etc.). Thomas Jefferson, he who founded The University but attended W&M, reputedly lost his virginity there every week or so. These epochal events were celebrated nightly by many reverent, tradition-conscious undergraduates and wayward faculty.
W&M didn't have an engineering program, so dam construction was left to geologists (not a bad idea - think Oroville Dam spillway). What, we were going to ask the physics majors? We'd still be arguing about strength of materials, charge density, and moments of inertia.
So build we did.
My sed-strat classmates (I had none who would admit to being geomorphologists) protested our plans because they wanted to witness an event that normally took millennia to complete: formation of a delta. But led by paleontologist Dr. Gerry Johnson, we won the day, constructed the dam (a replica of which is shown here), and saved our beloved waterway from premature infilling.
There was much celebrating that evening at the lake. And much contamination the next day - omething for Earth Day 1971 to address.
And that's the truth (at least the part about building the dam).
How's this for an interesting Earth Day factoid. Richard M. Nixon (R) - during whose presidency the EPA, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act were all created - died on this day in 1994. Who would have imagined that?
Now for some grading....
"A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking." - Jerry Seinfeld The Week, 27 April 2012