April 2 — Maria Sibylla Merian, German Entomologist, Born (1647)

For much of history, insects were considered “beasts of the devil” and therefore were not studied.  This began to change in the 1600s, when a few conscientious observers of nature decided to turn their attention to insects.  One of the first—and foremost—was a German woman, Maria Sibylla Merian.             Merian was born on April 2, […]

Read More →
April 1 — Wangari Maathai, Kenyan Conservationist, Born (1940)

Wangari Maathai accomplished much in her life.  Most would list her selection as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate as her greatest accomplishment.  But I think what earned her the prize is much more notable:  Wangari Maathai planted 50 million trees!             Wangari Muta was born on April 1, 1940, in a small rural village in […]

Read More →
March 31 — Al Gore, Environmental Activist and U.S. Vice President, Born (1948)

One can get an argument about who is the greatest environmental U.S. president—maybe Teddy Roosevelt, maybe Richard Nixon, maybe even Abraham Lincoln.  But there can’t be much argument about the greatest environmental vice president.  Or perhaps, it is best to say the greatest environmentalist to become vice president—Al Gore.             Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. was […]

Read More →
March 30 — The United States Buys Alaska (1867)

If you were given the chance to buy land at 30 cents per acre, would you?  Me, too, even if those acres were far away.  The U.S. said yes to that decision about 150 years ago, when it bought Alaska from the Russians.  The purchase price was actually $7.2 million, or 2 cents per acre […]

Read More →
March 29 — Niagara Falls Stops Flowing (1848)

If you’ve ever been to Niagara Falls, you know what an overwhelming experience it is.  Massive quantities of water cascading over the falls, while you stand just feet away from the edge.  Or floating on the Maid of the Mist, all that water crashing down around you.  Now, just imagine if it stopped.  Unimaginable, you […]

Read More →
March 28 — Joseph Bazalgette, London’s Sewer King, Born (1819)

In the mid-1800s, London’s Thames River was a sewer.  A huge, foul, disease-causing cesspool fed by the wastes of London’s exploding human population.  Something had to be done, and Joseph Bazalgette did it.             Joseph Bazalgette was born on March 28, 1819, the son of a naval engineer (died 1891).  Like his father, he also […]

Read More →
March 27 — Trans-Alaska Pipeline Begun (1975)

One of America’s most ambitious projects—economic and environmental—began on March 27, 1975, when the first pipe was laid for what would become the Trans Alaska Pipeline.  After years of debate about the value and possible impact of the pipeline, the outcome has been remarkably positive.             Oil was discovered in the far north of Alaska […]

Read More →
March 12 — Girl Scouts Founded (1912)

Ask most people about Girl Scouts, and the answer will probably be, “Cookies.”  But the organization is, of course, much broader and more important to the lives of girls than just Samoas and Tagalongs.  Just like the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scout movement has had an incredible influence on young girls—and on the environment we […]

Read More →