Runoff (I knew some hydrologic terms even then) from a construction site was dumping (I knew environmental lingo even then - 'dumping', not 'transporting') 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, an event that was 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. What, we were going to ask the physics majors? We'd still be arguing about strength of materials, charge density, and moments.
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 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. Something for Earth Day 1971 to address.
Fast forward to 2013. My youthful enthusiasm and naïveté have waned, replaced by ennui and cynicism. Instead of Earth Day, I tend to lean toward the curmudgeonly view
recently espoused (tongue-in-cheek) by Joe Romm in his post, Let's Rename Earth Day, a reprise of a 2008 piece in Salon.
Here is how he concluded:
We have fiddled like Nero for far too long to save the whole earth or all of its species. Now we need a World War II scale effort just to cut our losses and save what matters most. So let’s call it Triage Day. And if worse comes to worst — yes, if worse comes to worst — at least future generations won’t have to change the name again.
As a penultimate thought, I suspect that many environmentalists and climate science advocates will have their own, private name: “I told you so” Day. Not as a universal as “Triage Day,” I admit, but it has a Cassandra-like catchiness, no?
Finally, perhaps we should call it “science day.” We don’t have a day dedicated to celebrating science, and don’t we deserve one whole day free from the non-stop disinformation of the anti-science crowd?
As always, I’m open to better ideas….
Finally, one of Earth's creatures is not taking our malignant neglect of his homeland lying down. Yes, Godzilla, himself a creation of our abuse of Earth, decided to take things into his own stubby claws and make things right: he destroyed the ASARCO stacks at its defunct El Paso copper smelter. Yes, tired of years of air pollution, on 13 April 2013 Tokyo's worst nightmare popped up in west Texas and vented his rage on the ASARCO chimneys that had belched noxious gases into the skies for over 100 years.
Friend and colleague Ari Michelsen braved cohorts of Federal agents (who wanted us to believe that the stacks were brought down purposely), automatic weapons fire from Ciudad Juárez, and the great beast himself, to snap this picture.
Thanks to his courage, the shroud of silence about this seminal event has been breached and the nefarious intent of the US goverment exposed! Conspiracy theorists (and I know you're out there), rejoice!
So Happy Earth/Triage Day!
"A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking." - Jerry Seinfeld The Week, 27 April 2012