August 29 — Henry Bergh, Founder of ASPCA, Born (1813)

Cruelty to animals is considered a sin in modern society, but in the 1800s, cruelty was commonplace.  Henry Bergh, a rich socialite with a profound sense of what it means to be humane, changed all that. Henry Bergh was born on August 29, 1813 (died 1888).  The term “born with a silver spoon in his […]

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August 27 — First Oil Well Drilled (1859)

August 27 is known in some circles as Oil and Gas Industry Appreciation Day.  It’s a pretty low-key affair, and I can’t find information about why the industry picked August 27—but I think I know the reason.  This date, in 1859, is also when Edwin Drake drilled the first successful oil well in the world. […]

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August 26 — Krakatau Volcano Erupted (1883)

Long before Mount St. Helens erupted, the most famous volcanic eruption in modern times occurred in Indonesia—when the volcano on Krakatau Island erupted.  It has allowed an ecological “experiment” to be followed for more than a century. Krakatau is an island between Java and Sumatra, previously dominated by a group of ancient volcanic cones.  During […]

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August 25 — National Park Service Born (1916)

A few years ago, PBS and film-maker Ken Burns combined to produce the documentary series, “The National Parks—America’s Best Idea.”  Many of us would agree—the 400+ units of the National Park Service are a treasure beyond accounting.  And why have those treasures been preserved and prospered over a century dominated by growing population and development?  […]

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August 14 — Hetch Hetchy Began Producing Power (1925)

It is known as the first major environmental controversy in United States history.  It broke John Muir’s heart.  To this day, it remains as controversial as when it was built.  “It” is the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park to provide water and power to San Francisco. According to John Muir, […]

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August 23 — Chile’s Atacama Desert Blooms (2017)

It is one of the driest places on earth.  Average rainfall is 0.5 inches per year; some areas have no recorded rainfall—ever.  But when it does rain, as it did leading up to August 23, 2017, watch out!  The desert blooms! The Atacama Desert in Chile lies along the northwestern edge of the country, a […]

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August 21 — “Bambi” Released (1942)

One of history’s most controversial films was released on August 21, 1942—Bambi.  How could an animated film about a white-tailed deer cause such furor?  How could discussion of the film become an industry in itself?  No doubt, it underlies our universal dilemma of both using and protecting nature simultaneously. Bambi is a product of Walt […]

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August 13 — Roald Amundsen Completes Northwest Passage (1905-1906)

The Northwest Passage—a sea route across the Arctic region between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans—had been a dream for centuries.  It became a reality in 1905 when Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen completed the journey.  Today, climate change has made what was once a dream into a certainty. The mariners who tried to find the Northwest […]

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