California has experienced a drought since 2012. A drought is a deficiency in water supply. A drought does not have to result from an absence of rain, however that is one of the causes that many times result in a drought. In California, scientists debate what caused this specific drought. There are two main arguments for the causes; the first being that a large area of high pressure air off of the West coast, extending four miles high and 22 miles in length, has blocked storms from forming in California. As a result, California has received some alarmingly low records of rain and snow. This past January experienced its least amount of rain recorded. The second reason greatly debated is that California has received record breaking warm temperatures. According to USA today and NASA, 2014 was the warmest year in 120 years. Even this information from USA Today is debated, also. Many say 2014 was not the warmest year in 120 years.
This is not the first time a great drought was experienced by the U.S. The Dust Bowl in the 1930s was a much graver drought because it exceeded the California drought in time. In some areas of the Great Plains, the dustbowl lasted eight years, causing migration westward. At its peak in 1934, 77% of the country was covered by the Dust Bowl according to Forbes magazine. Another great drought, named the Great Plains Drought, covered more than one state. In 1954, the drought had enveloped ten states and covered 62% of the country. The Great Plains drought lasted from eight to twelve years.
California is not the only location experiencing a drought. According to The International Business Times, Sao Paulo in Brazil has had record low amounts of rainfall for three consecutive years that has resulted in a drought, even though the country of Brazil is the source for 12% of the world’s fresh water. This rain is the main source of water replenishment for the city’s reservoirs, which are 27% full capacity, down from the 40% capacity of May 2014. In additions, the Northern part of Kenya, Turkana, is experiencing a major drought. With water affecting crops and livestock, food has become incredibly expensive. The lack of a good rain season, the last being in 2012, resulted in largely affecting the way of life. Samuel Aboto, a resident in Turkana, told The Guardian of the affect rain has had on his animals, saying that last year at this time he had 600 goats, now he has none.
1. What are two possible reasons for the drought in California?
2. What drought affected the Great Plains in the 1930s?
3. What year did the Great Plains drought directly affect 10 states at once?
4. What two other places in the world are experiencing a drought?
5. Do you think precautionary measures to the drought should have been taken by the California state government? Why or why not?
The Development of Softball
Division I NCAA college athletics is the highest level of athletic competition in college. In May and June, the best “DI” collegiate softball teams compete to play in the World Series, starting on May 28.
Softball is a game that is played with a bat and ball between two teams. The field is made up of two parts; the infield and the outfield. In the infield, four bases form a diamond, with the pitcher’s mound in the middle. The outfield is often made up of grass. Much like in its relative’s game, baseball, the defensive team stands on the field while the offensive team bats. In order to score, a player must hit the ball with the bat and run around the four bases. The batter starts at home plate and passes through first, second, and third until he comes back to home. In a typical game, after each team has had seven at bats, the team with the most runs wins. Three of the currently biggest differences softball has with baseball are; the ball is bigger, pitchers underhand the ball, and it is mostly a women’s sport.
The first recorded softball game was played with men at a boat club in 1887 in Chicago, Illinois. They played with a broom and a rolled up glove. The next week one of the members of the club, George Hancock, invented a ball and small bat for the game. Thought of as a way for baseball players to train during the winter, the game was named “Indoor baseball.” When people started playing the game outside, it was called “Indoor-Outdoor baseball.” The name, “Softball,” was coined by the YMCA in 1926 because of the “softer” ball. Because the ball was not as hard as a regular baseball, fielders did not wear gloves. Although there were many different ways to play the game, softball became more uniformly played when the Joint Rules committee on Softball created rules in 1934. In the 1940s, a change in the game occurred; fast pitch softball became more commonly played than soft pitch. Fast pitch softball is played with a faster pitch, longer distance from the pitcher’s mound to home, and gloves.
Women’s softball became recently competitive with the first softball appearance in the Women’s World Championships in 1965. Originally, pitchers were encouraged to throw the ball softly because of the widespread belief that a hard throw could break the batter’s bones. As time went on, the belief in women’s fragility faded and women became more adept to the fast pitches. In 1996, fast pitch softball was added as an official sport in the women’s summer Olympics. Currently, women’s fast pitch is played more competitively at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels while slow-pitched softball is played more as a social activity by both genders.
1. Did softball originate as an all-women’s sport?
2. How many innings are in a typical softball game?
3. How does a team score?
4. What year was the first year softball was played in the Olympics?
5. What day does the NCAA Women’s College World Series begin?
Jessica De Gree
Jessica teaches 5th grade English and History as well as 11th grade Spanish III at a Great Hearts Academy in Glendale, AZ. In addition to teaching, she coaches JV girls basketball and is a writing tutor for The Classical Historian Online Academy. Jessica recently played basketball professionally in Tarragona, Spain, where she taught English ESL and tutored Classical Historian writing students. In 2018, she received her Bachelor's degree in English and Spanish from Hillsdale College, MI.