Texas faced crisis with blackouts, highlighting gaps in American infrastructure.
Texas and other southern states were hit by two severe winter storms, on February 10-11 and 13-17, 2021. The temperature dropped to the lowest that Texas has seen in recent decades. Amidst this, a major power outage has left 4 million people without power at its peak, due to numerous power generators malfunctioning. At least 14 million people are struggling to access clean water. Nearly 60 deaths have been attributed to the cold weather.
But this is not the first time that Texas is handling a major power outage due to cold weather. The same happened ten years ago in 2011 when a blizzard led to frozen generators and natural gas pipelines. Back then, the cold weather led to a blackout that affected 3.2 million people. A post-mortem recommended Texas to winterize power facilities. Clearly, the government and energy providers have failed to learn from this prior lesson.
But it's also not just Texas. The Council on Foreign Relations issued a highly critical review of the state of U.S. infrastructure, following the coronavirus fiasco. Separately, in 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers issued an Infrastructure Report card for the US. Back then, the country received a score of D+. A new report card will be released on March 3, 2021. It will be interesting to see what grade America receives then.
Myanmar protests turning increasingly deadly with three deaths this week.
For the third week in a row, Myanmar's political situation continued to be volatile. Since the military coup took place on February 1, 2021, people have been on the streets of Myanmar asking for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. Their wishes have yet to be granted.
Instead, this week the police used live ammunition against the protestors. Two protestors have been killed, while a supermarket worker who was injured more than a week ago also died. International communities have spoken out against the violence used by the police.
Is anything going to change as a result of the deaths or the pressure from the West? We can take a look at a couple recent history lessons. In Belarus, there have been at least 4 deaths relating to the protests, and the West has repeatedly condemned the Belarusian government. But protests have now entered the 6th month with little signs of resolution. Instead, the government has so far arrested more than 30,000 people with global attention shifting away onto other matters.
Of course, in the US, at least 25 people have died as a result of the civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd. It remains to be seen whether any significant shift will come as a result.
NASA's Perseverance rover landed on Mars in search of past life.
NASA's Perseverance rover landed successfully on Mars, and it will be there to look for past signs of life and collect samples of soil and rock to be sent back to Earth for study. It is NASA's first mission to look for past life on Mars since 1976. A plan to send Martian soil and rock back to Earth has never been attempted before, and this historical event is now expected a decade from now, in 2031.
In NASA's 1976 missions, the Viking 1 and Viking 2 rovers did not find any conclusive evidence that there were signs of life on Mars. However, Vikings 1 and 2 did send back more than 1,400 pictures of the surface of Mars, which helped us to understand what the planet looked like.
One thing that is worth noting though. The two rovers landed on Mars the same year that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak showed off the first Apple computer. We can be sure that technology has come a long way.
You can take a look back at this video made in 2018 about what we know about life on Mars, as this could change very soon.
This article is part of the Making History This Week series.