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Catastrophes and Prehistory

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Author Topic: Catastrophes and Prehistory  (Read 6843 times)
Troy Exeter
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Posts: 2113

« Reply #30 on: March 19, 2007, 02:19:38 am »

Timeline of environmental events

The timeline of environmental events is a historical account of events that have shaped humanity's perspective on the environment. This timeline includes some major natural events, man-made disasters, environmentalists that have had a positive influence, and environmental legislation.


10th millennium BC
• Circa 10,000 BC — North America: Dire Wolf, Smilodon, Giant beaver, Ground sloth, Mammoth, and American lion all become extinct.
— Bering Sea: Land bridge from Siberia to North America sinks.
— North America: Long Island becomes an island when waters break through on the western end to the interior lake
— Homo floresiensis, the human's last known surviving close relative, becomes extinct.
— World: Sea levels rise abruptly and massive inland flooding occurs due to glacier melt.
• Circa 9700 BC — Lake Agassiz forms.
• Circa 9600 BC — Younger Dryas cold period ends. Pleistocene ends and Holocene begins. Paleolithic ends and Mesolithic begins. Large amounts of previously glaciated land become habitable again.
• Circa 9500 BC — Ancylus Lake, part of the modern-day Baltic Sea, forms.

9th millennium BC
• Circa 8000 BC — World - Rising Sea levels
— Antarctica - long-term melting of the Antarctic ice sheets is commencing
— Asia - rising sea levels caused by postglacial warming
— World - Obliteration of more than 40 million animals about this time
— North America - The glaciers were receding and by 8,000 B.C. the Wisconsin had withdrawn completely.
— World - Inland flooding due to catastrophic glacier melt takes place in several regions

8th millennium BC
• Circa 7640 BC — Date theorized for impact of Tollmann's hypothetical bolide with Earth and associated global cataclysm.

7th millennium BC
• Circa 6500 BC — English Channel formed
• Circa 6100 BC — The Storegga Slide, causing a megatsunami in the Norwegian Sea
• Circa 6000 BC — Rising sea levels form the Torres Strait, separate Australia from New Guinea.

6th millennium BC
• Circa 5600 BC — According to the Black Sea deluge theory, the Black Sea floods with salt water. Some 3000 cubic miles (12,500 km³) of salt water is added, significantly expanding it and transforming it from a fresh-water landlocked lake into a salt water sea.
— Beginning of the desertification of north Africa, which ultimately lead to the creation of the Sahara desert. It's possible this process pushed some natives into migrating to the region of the Nile in the east, thereby laying the groundwork for the rise of Egyptian civilization.

3rd millennium BC
• 2700 BC — Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh describes vast tracts of cedar forests in what is now southern Iraq. Gilgamesh defies the gods and cuts down the forest, and in return the gods say they will curse Sumer with fire (or possibly drought). By 2100 BC, soil erosion and salt buildup have devastated agriculture. One Sumerian wrote that the "earth turned white." Civilization moved north to Babylonia and Assyria. Again, deforestation becomes a factor in the rise and subsequent fall of these civilizations.
— Some of the first laws protecting the remaining forests decreed in Ur.

2nd millennium BC
• 1500 BC — Soil erosion is both a consequence of growth and a cause of collapse of Central American city -states.
• 1450 BC — Minoan civilization in the Merranean declines, but scholars are divided on the cause. Possibly a volcanic eruption was the source of the catastrophe. On the other hand, gradual deforestation may have led to materials shortages in manufacturing and shipping. Loss of timber and subsequent deterioration of its land was probably a factor in the decline of Minoan power in the late Bronze Age, according to John Perlin in A Forest Journey.

1st millennium BC

3rd century BC
• 250 BC — Ashoka introduces wildlife protection legislation in India
• 500 BC — Roman Empire, Cloaca Maxima (big sewer) is built in Rome by Etruscan dynasty of Tarquins. As Rome grows, a network of cloacae (sewers) and aquaducts are built.

1st millennium AD
• 100AD to 400AD — Decline of Roman Empire may have been partly due to lead poisoning, according to modern historian and toxicologist Jerome Nriagu. Romans used lead acetate ("sugar of lead") to sweeten old wine and turn grape pulp into a sweet condiment. Usually the acidic wine or pulp was simply left in a vat with sheets of lead. An aristocrat with a sweet tooth might have eaten as much as a gram of lead a day. Widespread use of this sweetener would have caused gout, sterility, insanity and many of the symptoms which were, in fact, present among the Roman aristocrats. High levels of lead have been found in the bones of aristocratic Romans. Far more than simply using lead pipes or lead utensils, the direct consumption of lead-sweetened wine and foods created serious and widespread lead poisoning among upper-class Romans.
7th century
• 676 — Cuthbert of Lindisfarne enacts protection legislation for birds on the Farne Islands (Northumberland, UK).
2nd millennium AD
14th century
• 1347 to 1350s — Bubonic plague decimates Europe, creating the first attempts to enforce public health and quarantine laws.
• 1366 — City of Paris forces butchers to dispose of animal wastes outside the city (Ponting); similar laws would be disputed in Philadelphia and New York nearly 400 years later.
• 1388 — Parliament passes an act forbidding the throwing of filth and garbage into ditches, rivers and waters. City of Cambridge also passes the first urban sanitary laws in England.
15th century
• 1420 to 1427, Madeira islands : destruction of the laurisilva forest, or the woods which once clothed the whole island when the portuguese settlers decided to clear the land for farming by setting most of the island on fire. It is said that the fire burned for seven years.
16th century
• 1546 — Italian physican Girolamo Fracastoro outlines theory of contagious disease. He reasoned that infectious diseases could be passed on in 3 ways: simple contact, indirect contact, and minute bodies over distance through the air.
• 1560 to 1600 — Rapid industrialization in England leads to heavy deforestation and increasing substitution of coal for wood.
17th century
• 1640 — Isaac Walton writes The Compleat Angler about fishing and about conservation.
• 1662 — John Graunt publishes a book of mortality statistics compiled by parish and municipal councils in England. Although the numbers are inaccurate, a start was made in epidemiology and the understanding of disease and public health.
• 1690 — Colonial Governor William Penn requires Pennsylvania settlers to preserve one acre of trees for every five acres cleared.
18th century
• 1700 — Some 600 ships are engaged in hauling "sea coal" from Newcastle to London, an enormous increase compared to 1650, when only two ships regularly carried sea coal. Rapid industrialization and the demand for iron and naval supplies has stripped England's forests.
• 1711 — Jonathan Swift notes the contents of London's gutters: "sweepings from butchers' stalls, dung, guts and blood, drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud..."
• 1720 — In India, hundreds of Bishnois Hindus of Khejadali go to their deaths trying to protect trees from the Maharaja of Jodhpur, who needed wood to fuel the lime kilns for cement to build his palace.
• 1739 — Benjamin Franklin and neighbors petition Pennsylvania Assembly to stop waste dumping and remove tanneries from Philadelphia's commercial district. Foul smell, lower property values, disease and interference with fire fighting are cited. The industries complain that their rights are being violated, but Franklin argues for "public rights." Franklin and the environmentalists win a symbolic battle but the dumping goes on.
• 1748 — Jared Eliot, clergyman and physician, writes Essays on Field Husbandry in New England promoting soil conservation.
• 1762 to 1769 — Philadelphia committee led by Benjamin Franklin attempts to regulate waste disposal and water pollution.
• 1773 — William Bartram, (1739-1823). American naturalist sets out on a five year journey through the US Southeast to describe wildlife and wilderness from Florida to the Mississippi. His book, Travels, is published in 1791 and becomes one of the early literary classics of the new United States of America.
19th century
• 1820 — World population reached 1 billion.
• 1849 — Establishment of the U.S. Department of Interior.
• 1851 — Henry David Thoreau delivers an address to the Concord (Massachusetts) Lyceum declaring that "in Wildness is the preservation of the World." In 1863, this address is published posthumously as the essay "Walking" in Thoreau's Excursions.
• 1854 — Henry David Thoreau publishes Walden; or, Life in the Woods.
• 1859 — Publication of second ion of William Elliott's Carolina Sports by Land and Water (first published in 1846), an early example of the hunter-as-conservationist, a phenomenon which became increasingly important for conservationism.
• 1860 — Henry David Thoreau delivers an address to the Middlesex (Massachusetts) Agricultural Society, entitled "The Succession of Forest Trees," in which he analyzes aspects of what later came to be understood as forest ecology and urges farmers to plant trees in natural patterns of succession; the address is later published in (among other places) Excursions, becoming perhaps his most influential ecological contribution to conservationist thought.
• 1864 — George Perkins Marsh publishes Man and Nature; or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action (revised 1874 as The Earth as Modified by Human Action), the first systematic analysis of humanity's destructive impact on the environment and a work which becomes (in Lewis Mumford's words) "the fountain-head of the conservation movement."
• 1866 — The term Ecology is coined (in German as škologie by Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (1834-1919) in his Generelle Morphologie der Organismen. Haeckel was an anatomist, zoologist, and field naturalist appointed professor of zoology at the Zoological Institute, Jena, in 1865. Haeckel was philosophically an enthusiastic Darwinian. Ecology is from the Greek oikos, meaning house or dwelling and logos, meaning discourse or study of a thing.
• 1869 — Samuel Bowles publishes Our New West. Records of Travel between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean, an influential traveller's account of the wilds and peoples of the West, in which he advocates preservation of other scenic areas such as Niagara Falls and the Adirondacks.
• 1872 — US President Ulysses Grant signs Yellowstone National Park bill.
— US first national park, Yellowstone National Park.
— Arbor Day was founded by J. Sterling Morton of Nebraska City, Nebraska. It occurs every year on the last Friday in April in the US.
• 1874 — Charles Hallock establishes Forest and Stream magazine sparking a US national debate about ethics and hunting.
— German graduate student Othmar Zeider discovers chemical formula for the insecticide DDT.
• 1876 — British River Pollution Control Act makes it illegal to dump sewage into a stream.
• 1879 — U.S. Geological Survey formed. John Wesley Powell, explorer of the Colorado River a decade earlier, will become its head in March 1881.
• 1890 — Yosemite National Park Bill, established the Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks in California.
• 1891 — General Revision Act.
• 1892 — John Muir, (1838 - 1914), founded the Sierra Club.
• 1895 — Sewage cleanup in London means the return of some fish species (grilse, whitebait, flounder, eel, smelt) to the Thames River.
20th century
• 1902 — George Washington Carver writes How to Build Up Worn Out Soils.
• 1903 — March 14, US President Theodore Roosevelt creates first National Bird Preserve, (the beginning of the Wildlife Refuge system), on Pelican Island, Florida.
• 1906 — Antiquities Act, passed by US Congress which authorized the president to set aside national monument sites.
• 1908 — Muir Woods National Monument was established on January 9 and now governed by the National Park Service.
— The National Conservation Commission, appointed in June by President Roosevelt.
— An article by Robert Underwood Johnson in Century magazine, "A High Price to Pay for Water," helps bring the Hetch Hetchy controversy to national attention.
• 1909 — US President Theodore Roosevelt convenes the North American Conservation Conference, held in Washington DC and attended by representatives of Canada, Newfoundland, Mexico, and the United States.
• 1913 — Woodrow Wilson signed a dam bill into law on December 19 which destroyed the Hetch Hetchy Valley.
• 1916 — US Congress created the National Park Service.
• 1918 — Scientific American reports alcohol-gasoline anti-knock blend is "universally" expected to be the fuel of the future. Seven years later, in Public Health Service hearings, General Motors and Standard Oil spokesmen will claim that there are no alternatives to leaded gasoline as an anti-knock additive.
— Congress approves the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which implements a 1916 Convention (between the U.S. and Britain, acting for Canada) for the Protection of Migratory birds, and establishes responsibility for international migratory bird protection.
• 1927 — Great Mississippi Flood.
• 1930 — World population reached 2 billion.
• 1933 — Game Management published by Aldo Leopold, (1886 - 1948).
• 1934 to 1937 — The Dust Bowl drought of the US plains region causes harsh economic damage.
• 1935 — Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act.
• 1944 — Flood Control Act of 1944 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 22.
• 1948 — World Conservation Union or International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is an international organization dedicated to natural resource conservation. Founded in 1948, its headquarters is located in Gland, Switzerland.
• 1951 — The Nature Conservancy is an environmental organization founded in the United States.
— World Meteorological Organization (WMO) established by the United Nations.
• 1954 — Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act
• 1956 — Fish and Wildlife Act.
• 1960 — World population reached 3 billion.
• 1962 — Wallace Stegner, (1909 - 1993), wrote the famous Wilderness Essay.
— Rachel Carson, (1907 - 1964), wrote Silent Spring.
• 1964 — Wilderness Act.
— Water Resources Research Act.
• 1965 — Hurricane Betsy flooded large areas of New Orleans drowning around 40 people.
• 1966 — National Wildlife Refuge System Act.
— Furr Seal Act.
— Endangered Species Preservation Act, see Endangered Species Act of 1973
• 1968 — National Trails System Act.
— Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
• 1969 — National Environmental Policy Act.
• 1970 — Earth Day, millions of people gather in the United States for the first Earth day organized by Gaylord Nelson, former senator of Wisconsin, and Denis Hayes, Harvard graduate student.
— EPA, US Environmental Protection Agency formed by President Nixon.
— Clean Air Act.
— Resource Recovery Act, see RCRA 1976
• 1971 — Greenpeace is an international environmental organisation founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Greenpeace has national and regional offices in 41 countries worldwide.
• 1972 — Marine Mammal Protection Act.
— Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act.
— Noise Control Act
— Clean Water Act.
— Ocean Dumping Act.
— Coastal Zone Management Act.
• 1973 — OPEC annouces oil embargo against United States.
— Endangered Species Act.
• 1974 — Chlorofluorocarbons are first hypothesized to cause ozone thinning.
— National Reserves Management Act.
— World population reached 4 billion.
• 1975 — Energy Policy and Conservation Act.
• 1976 — Dioxin released in industrial accident in Italy, known as Seveso disaster
— Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
• 1977 — Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.
— Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act.
• 1979 — Three Mile Island, worst nuclear power accident in US history.
— Hans Jonas The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of Ethics for the Technological Age
• 1980 — Mount St. Helens erupts explosively in Washington State.
• 1982 — Coastal Barrier Resources Act.
• 1986 — Chernobyl, world's worst nuclear power accident occurs at plant in Soviet Union.
— Emergency Wetlands Resources Act.
— Tetra-ethyl lead phase-out was completed in the US.
• 1987 — World population reached 5 billion.
• 1988 — Ocean Dumping Ban Act.
— Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess the "risk of human-induced climate change".
• 1989 — Exxon Valdez creates largest oil spill in US history.
— Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer entered into force on January 1. Since then, it has undergone five revisions, in 1990 (London), 1992 (Copenhagen), 1995 (Vienna), 1997 (Montreal), and 1999 (Beijing).
• 1990 — National Environmental Education Act.
— European Environment Agency was established by EEC Regulation 1210/1990 and became operational in 1994. It is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.
— The IPCC first assessment report was completed in 1990, and served as the basis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
• 1991 — World's worst oil spill occurs in Kuwait during war with Iraq.
— Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established by donor governments.
• 1992 — The Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from June 3 to June 14, was unprecedented for a United Nations conference, in terms of both its size and the scope of its concerns.
— World Ocean Day began on 8 June at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
• 1993 — The Great Flood of 1993 was one of the most destructive floods in United States history.
• 1997 — July, U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, which stated that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations.
— The Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in December. It is actually an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Countries that ratify this protocol commit to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases.
• 1999 — World population reached 6 billion.
21st century
• 2001 — President Bush rejects the Kyoto protocol.
• 2002 — Earth Summit, held in Johannesburg a United Nations conference
• 2004 — 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake causes large tsunamis, killing nearly a quarter of a million people.
• 2005 — Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma cause widespread destruction and environmental harm to coastal communities in the Gulf Coast region.
— The Kyoto Protocol came into force on February 16 following ratification by Russia on November 18, 2004
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