September 5 — UNESCO Established First World Heritage Sites (1978)

UNESCO is one of those darned acronyms that we all have heard of, but perhaps can’t quite explain.  As we often say, it’s complicated.  But UNESCO is a fundamentally important cog in the machines of global conservation, for both nature and culture. UNESCO stands for United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  It is one […]

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September 1 — Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, Died (1914)

Martha, the last surviving Passenger Pigeon, died on September 1, 1914.  Martha had been born in a zoo (Probably Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo) and later was relocated to the Cincinnati Zoo, where she lived until her death.  With her death, a species that had once been the single most abundant bird in North America—and probably the […]

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August 30 — Lord Walsingham Shot 1,070 Grouse (1888)

Lord Walsingham was known as a crack shot.  He had to have been to shoot more than one thousand game birds on a single day.  His total—1,070—remains a world record, and it is unlikely that it will ever be exceeded. Thomas de Grey, also known as the 6th Lord Walsingham, lived in Blubberhouse Moor, a […]

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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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