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H2 Oh

Hudson Cooper - Columnist
Posted 1/14/21

Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink. That line is from “The Rime of The Ancient Mariner” an exceptionally long poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The speaker is a sailor on a becalmed …

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H2 Oh


Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink. That line is from “The Rime of The Ancient Mariner” an exceptionally long poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The speaker is a sailor on a becalmed ship who suffers from thirst, though surrounded by undrinkable salt water.

I took the time to review every stanza of this poem and did not find one single rhyme. “If I Ran the Zoo” by Dr. Seuss has more rhymes in the first few lines than Coleridge's entire epic.

So, I looked up the word rime. Ironically had the parched sailor been in colder waters he could have had drinking water. The word ‘rime' refers to frost formed by water vapor from fog or clouds rapidly freezing on cold objects. Chip off some frost, let it melt and quench that thirst. Remember not to lick the mast.

About 71% of the Earth's surface is covered in water. But water also exists in water vapor, icecaps and glaciers. Technically water is defined as dihydrogen monoxide.

That means each molecule is comprised of 2 atoms of hydrogen and 1 atom of oxygen. Originally the formula had 3 atoms of hydrogen but was found to have a foul odor and a greenish tint. So, after much trial and error, the current molecular structure was established. This happened 4.5 billion years ago give or take a few weeks.

Scientists have many theories about how water arrived on Earth. One states that long before Maine had Poland springs and Aqua had finas asteroids hit our arid planet and brought water.

Another theory is that when the Earth was formed, water vapor was released from the cooling of molten rocks. When the planet cooled off enough, the vapor turned to rain, irrigating the new planet. Once on the ground, rainwater was recycled back into the atmosphere. It is an ongoing process that eventually led to the invention of the umbrella.

When I was growing up, we cooled off in the summer by drinking water from a hose in our yard. We just turned the spigot, took a sip and passed the hose around to our fellow Little Leaguers. We never dreamed that someday people would pay for water. It was as crazy an idea as thinking that someday we would pay to watch television.

Americans buy about 70 million plastic bottles of water a year. Of that amount only 15 million are recycled. The remainder wind up in landfills, our oceans or tossed out on our highways next to discarded fast food wrappers, old tires and wads of chewed gum.

Recently I worked a job where the owners were trying to be supportive of our environment. We had forks, knives and spoons made from compressed corn. Plates and cups were fashioned from compostable materials. But the big change dealt with water. There were no plastic bottles, no water coolers and no water fountains. Instead, we drank water out of aluminum cans. It was certainly unique.

The company behind the product used lots of pro-environment messages on the can. They sold me when I read that 1 million plastic bottles are used every minute.

Not sure if that number is worldwide but it is an eye opener. Aluminum cans are recycled more often that plastic water bottles. The product also told me that a portion of the proceeds of their canned water goes to ocean conservation.

The only thing that made me uneasy was the list of contents. The plastic bottled water I am used to drinking contains nothing but 100% spring water. The canned variety had a list of ingredients that sounded like a page from my high school chemistry textbook.

It started with purified water that might mean it came from a tap. The ingredients then listed potassium bicarbonate followed by the chloride brothers, calcium and magnesium.

If they cannot figure out how to can pure spring water maybe, we would be better off drinking from a hose.


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