Thirty years ago I was a biology professor at City College of New York with outside interests in mythology, religion, music, and gardening. Over the years of teaching and laboratory work, I began to focus on the role that water played in all of my interests. The more I contemplated, the more I realized that everything is water. Our very being, and the environment we inhabit, is infiltrated by the power of a simple molecule. From that realization I developed a course titled Water, Water Everywhere, first taught as a Freshman Seminar at Manhattanville College, and then as an Honors Seminar at Hofstra University. This website is my attempt to share the omnipresent nature of water with you.
ZIGGY © ZIGGY AND FRIENDS, INC. Reprinted with permission of ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION. All rights reserved.
Water, to those of us living on Long Island, can seem like a vast resource. The famous Apollo 8 photograph of the “big blue marble” did a great deal to reinforce that feeling, showing us what we all knew from staring at maps and globes but which packed a greater emotional punch when seen from space — the surface of our planet is covered with water. Yet as our dolphin friend above complains, we call our planet “earth” after the firm parts. Evolution tells us that life originated in a watery environment, yet in our popular imagination, we speak of “Mother Earth.”
Looking beneath the surface reveals a more sobering story. There is a good deal of water on the surface of our planet, and more locked in aquifers underneath the surface, but the prominence of water to our eye belies the fact that water on Earth is finite and precious. Water makes up only 0.02% of the mass of our planet, and fresh water — water that land animals and plants can use to run their biological systems — makes up only a tiny fraction of that amount. When we consider water in lakes and rivers — the water easiest for humans to tame — it makes up a minuscule fraction of the fraction.
“Tangled Up In Blue” is a blog designed to help us explore the implications of water — it’s physical, chemical, and biological entanglement with our lives, and it’s cultural, economic, and political prominence as well. The paradox is that, while water may in fact be a minor component of our planet, its presence permeates us, and all life on Earth. When you look closely, you’ll see that everything is water.
I thought it would be easy to blog periodically as the semester started, way back in January, but my return to full-time teaching turned out to be more time-consuming than I planned…and then, Coronavirus was upon us. I am feeling compelled to carve out the time to say a few things about water in the… Read moreRead More…
One of the “hidden” issues around water is the vast quantities which are often required for producing the goods we buy every day. Manufacturing of almost any sort of product generates heat. Water has an unusually high “heat capacity” — it can absorb a lot of heat without boiling, as anyone who has ever waited… Read moreRead More…
Follow My Blog
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.