This is a series of articles loosely based on water which is appropriate for this website whose focus is water. However, unlike the rest of this website which addresses specific practical issues of drinking water quality and treatment, these articles are much more general and, hopefully, more entertaining. The series begins with a discussion of the universal abundance of water and then progresses into water in the Solar System with considerable discussion of the role of water in planetary origins, geology, history, and atmospheres. From this perspective it should become easier to understand how water operates on the Earth and its importance to us in ways little appreciated. Later articles more specifically address the operation of water on/in Earth, gradually moving from the global and geologic history of water to more current, regional/local, and people-oriented stories of water.
While the base theme of the articles is water, It is often the case that, in order to talk about some aspect of water, it is necessary to discuss related topics. For example, in order to understand how water has shaped the Earth of today, there needs to be some discussion of the geologic history of the Earth including the formation of our moon and plate tectonics. A full story of plate tectonics is beyond the scope of this series but enough must be covered in order to understand the surprising part water plays in such an important activity including why the Earth has plate tectonics and Venus and Mars don’t. It should become quickly apparent that these water-related articles are only a small part of a much larger story, that many other interesting themes are only briefly touched upon. Even a fleeting glimpse of some new idea can be valuable.
One big question in education today is when anyone can look up anything on the net, what, then, should a teacher teach? One answer is that you can’t look up something that you don’t know exists so an education should provide a basic outline of knowledge from which a student can build. One example of building on existing knowledge is the Nile River. Most people probably know that the Nile has two main sources: the Blue Nile which originates in Lake Tana in Ethiopia and the White Nile that begins in the vicinity of Lake Victoria. There is also a Red/Black Nile and a Yellow Nile. If you look up the latter two Niles, you will learn something interesting about the history of the Nile River. Should you come across a word or an idea with which you are not familiar in these articles, we urge you to consider looking it up on an appropriate, trusted site on the internet.
Perhaps this series of articles may inspire some to more fully explore these and other topics. Or, just simply enjoy the stories in this series. Some of them do illustrate specific drinking water problems but on a much larger scale. Do you have a problem with iron precipitating from your well water once the oxygen in the air gets to the water? Several billion years ago all of the Earth’s oceans had a very similar problem with some very interesting and important consequences. Is calcium carbonate (scale) precipitating out of your water? Less than a billion years ago that started happening in Earth’s oceans, greatly affecting Earth’s atmosphere and global climate.
It is important to note that these are not peer-reviewed research articles complete with citations but rather one author’s understanding of a very interdisciplinary set of sciences worked into a series of stories. It may well be that some parts will prove to be incorrect, either because of the limited understanding of the author or because of new information not currently available. Should that happen, do let us know as, unlike a published book, website articles can be readily updated and even though these articles are written as stories, including some speculation, generalities, and simplifications, we would like them to be as accurate as possible. Read them as intended, as educational, entertaining, and possibly provocative, and, in the words of one of our regional foresters speaking of his love of the outdoors, “Enjoy, Enjoy.”