The water issue

Print editions of National Geographic’s special issue “Water: Our Thirsty World” (now online) will be on newsstands on March 30th. An accompanying exhibit opens at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles on March 27th. Among the features is “California’s Pipe Dream,” written by Joel K. Bourne, Jr with photographs by Edward Burtynsky.

Bourne opens, “On a blistering day in the megalopolis that is southern California, Shivaji Deshmukh of the Orange County Water District offers me a cup of cool, clear water that just yesterday was swirling around in an Anaheim toilet bowl … After spending the past century building one of the most elaborate water-delivery systems on the planet replete with giant pumps and thousands of miles of pipes and canals, California has come to this — akin to the last desperate act of lifeboat-bound sailors drinking their own bodily fluids.”

Once a body of water

The ghost of Leo Politi

Click on the cover to be taken to a gallery of Leo Politi's publications.

STRANGER things have happened, but not on this website. The night after attending Leo Politi Elementary School to take part in the March 2, 2010 Read Across America Day, a story posted itself on Chance of Rain while I slept.

As a reporter and science writer, never mind editor of this website, I can only assure readers that an investigation is under way. I take mystery postings very, very seriously.

In the meantime, those interested in Read Across America Day and other country-wide school programs should contact the National Education Association. Or for information about Pen in the Classroom programs, click here.

The Dry Garden: “The tree rings’ tale”

As the United Nations Climate Change Conference concludes in Copenhagen, what is a smart kid to make of the riots? That we’re all going to die — Santa first? That in a few years down the road, discussion of climate is best had wearing a clown’s nose while taunting a Danish policeman?

Let’s hope not. Let’s dream instead that winter solstice on Monday marks brighter days ahead in which the next generation may be armed with the best knowledge of what climate change means and what can be done about it.

And, eh presto, an ideal volume is at hand. A newly released book aimed at young teens, “The Tree Rings’ Tale: Understanding our Changing Climate,” is the work of science writer John Fleck. Although there are other texts out there for children, what sets Fleck’s book apart for Californians is its emphasis on the West. It’s particularly relevant to