Tuesday, October 21, 2014

CNN on the San Joaquin, America's most endangered river

Despite my promise at the end of Ebola news from campuses on the campaign trail and Discovery News, my readers will have to continue to "stay tuned for a delayed entertainment entry."  Tonight's entry is instead an exercise in blogging as professional development, a series of videos from CNN that I'm posting to my blog so that I can use them in this week and next.  What's the topic?  A 417-mile trip down the San Joaquin, the 'Apocalypse River.'  John Sutter writes, "I spent three weeks trying to kayak (and walk) down the “most endangered” river in America, California’s San Joaquin; I quickly learned why no one does that."
The San Joaquin is a river that would flip my boat, steal my camera, throw me into trees, take my food, tweak my muscles, acquaint me with heat exhaustion, scare the s--- out of me, trap me in the mud and leave me hiking for three days across a desert.

It even fertilized me in the middle of the night.

And that’s just the me-complaining part.

Far worse, it also deforms birds (or did, in the 1980s), taints taps, steals jobs, causes the ground to sink irreversibly, kills fish, destroys wetlands -- and harbors shady people with semi-automatic weapons.

Still, it’s somehow also a river that supports a valley that grows 40% of the nation’s fruits and some vegetables as well as more than 80% of the world’s almonds. It’s a hugely important river, but one that’s been engineered almost to death.
The rest is a great article that all of my readers should also read, but I'm interested in the videos for my classes, beginning with this one, Opinion: The 'most endangered' river.

The San Joaquin river is on life support. John D. Sutter looks at the extreme measures taken to keep the river flowing.
Follow over the jump for the rest of the videos from CNN about Sutter and what he found out in his voyage/trek down the San Joaquin River.

Sutter explains Opinion: Why is this a Frankenriver?

I'm from California, so I should not be surprised that people are promised eight times as much water out of the San Joaquin as actually flows through it.  The concept should freak out my environmental science students; Michigan doesn't need to pull such shenanigans with its rivers.

Speaking of videos that will freak out my environmental science students, this one should do the trick Opinion: Where salmon have to hitchhike.

The San Joaquin used to be home to a thriving Chinook Salmon run. Now, the salmon ride in trucks.
I grew up in California, and I didn't know that the San Joaquin had salmon until I watched this video.  That's OK; a day I learn something useful is a good day.

Now for the video that caught my attention to this project when I first saw it and that I most want to show my students: Opinion: California is sinking!

Parts of California's Central Valley are sinking a foot per year. CNN's John D. Sutter asks why.
I'm lecturing on groundwater in the morning, and subsidence is one of my favorite topics.  Now I have a video about the phenomenon.  Actually, I might have two, as KCRA has a more detailed report in New study says California land is sinking.

A study by the USGS says the land beneath many Californians' feet is sinking and could cause problems with building on it.
Wow.  Now back to Sutter and CNN, who ask an important question Opinion: Who owns the San Joaquin?

The San Joaquin river is held as a public trust. So why do some people think they own it?
Every trip has to end, and this one ends with Opinion: Saving the San Joaquin River.

The San Joaquin River is broken. CNN's John D. Sutter has ideas about how it can be repaired.
The video makes for a good conclusion, but the actual ideas are here: 7 ways to save the San Joaquin -- America's 'most endangered' river.  Happy reading, and here's to these Crazy Eddie ideas coming to fruition.

As for that entertainment entry I keep promising, stay tuned.  I'll get to it.  It's just that my students come first.

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