Chronography of Environment and Conservation
Page last modified 15/2/2022
See International for global population, and demography maps
See also Climate/weather
Click here for current, historic atmospheric CO2 levels, https://www.co2.earth/daily-co2
Click here for UK sea flood risk levels by amount of sea level rise, 1 metre � 60 metres, http://flood.firetree.net/
UK Environment Agency, https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency
UK Environment Agency, flooding and extreme weather, https://www.gov.uk/browse/environment-countryside/flooding-extreme-weather
World Resources Institute, https://www.wri.org/
�Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret�, Horace. You can expel nature with a pitchfork, but she will keep returning.
God will not seek thy race, nor will he ask thy birth. Alone he will demand of thee �What hast thou done with the land that I gave thee�, Persian Proverb
In fighting Nature, Man can win every battle, except the last, Thor Heyerdahl
Extinctions � see Appendix
Whaling � see Appendix
Environmental and Conservation Organisations � see Appendix a
13/11`/2021, The United Nation Change Conference, COP-26, closed in Glasgow. Disappointingly, it looked as if the 1.5 C maximum global warming target would be exceeded, as promises to phase out coal were watered down and delayed.
1/1/2020, Palau became the first nation to ban the import or sale of sunscreens containing chemicals toxic to coral. Half of sunscreen brands on sale in 2018 contained chemicals poisonous to coral even in trace amounts, and the area is a favoured destination for diving. Hawaii announced a similar ban in 5/2018, to come into effect in 2021.
1/11/2019, Fracking was banned in England after a series of earthquakes of up to magnitude 2.5 in the Blackpool area were attributed to it. Fracking was already banned in the rest of the UK.
3/1/2016, The United Kingdom designated Ascension Island and its surrounding waters in the Atlantic Ocean as a Marine protected area. The reserve was almost as big as the UK with just over half of the protected area completely closed to fishing.
26/6/2007, The UN declared the Galapagos Islands an endangered heritage site.
19/6/2006, On Spitzbergen, construction work began on a vault to preserve seeds for future generations in the event of a catastrophe such as nuclear war.
2/2005, In the UK, the Hunting Act, banning hunting with dogs, came into force.
26/7/2004, The Frozen Ark Project was launched, to preserve the DNA of endangered species.
17/3/2001, The Eden Centre, officially opened. It featured the world�s largest indoor rainforest.
6/1/2000, The Pyrenean Ibex became the first extinction of the new millennium when a tree fell on the last individual, killing it. A cloned kid was born in 2009 but only survived seven minutes.
1997, Salmon returned to the
River Rhine, after a major pollution incident on 1/11/1986, when a chemical
factory fire caused the river to run red. Fireman�s water had bene contained
but the containment wall gave way and a mix of agricultural chemicals and heavy
metals was released.
1995, The first United Nation Change Conference, COP-1, was held.
22/10/1994, In the USA, the Rhinoceros and Tiger Act came into force. It was intended to assist the preservation of these animals in countries where their habitat is.
3/4/1993, Animal Rights activists disrupted the Grand National at Aintree, Liverpool.
3/6/1992, The United NationsEarth Summit began in Rio de Janeiro. Delegates agreed to protect biodiversity and combat global warming. This led to the UN Framework Convention oin Climate Change, which came into force in 1994. This Framework called for developed countries to reduce CO2 emissions to 1990, and provided for technological assistance to developing countries. These measures were strengthened by the Kyoto Protocol, 1997. �The USA, however, refused to sign the agreement on biodiversity, seeing it as a threat to its economic growth.
15/12/1991. Wildlife investigators uncovered an illegal plot to sell 15,000 elephant tusks for �6 million, in defiance of the international ban on the ivory trade. The 83 tons of ivory had been bought from the Government of Burundi by 2 South African businessmen, to sell in the Far East. 80% of Africa�s elephants had been slaughtered for their tusks in the previous 10 years.
1990, The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) was formed at the second World Climate Change Conference.
16/10/1989, At a committee of the Convention in International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), at Lausanne, Switzerland, a ban on the international ivory trade was passed by 76 votes to 11. This caused the price of ivory to plummet from US$100 per lb to under 2$. Previously, poachers had reduced the African elephant population from 1.3 million in 1979 to 610,000 in 1989.
18/11/1988, Two years after a serious pollution incident damaged the Rhine River, the first warning station in a chain of sensors was installed at Huningue, France, to monitor the river for pollutants.
1987, The Brundtland Report was published.
1986, The UK emitted 1,937,000 tonnes of nitrous oxides to the atmosphere this year, 40% from power stations and 40% from road vehicles. Oxides of nitrogen and sulphur create acid rain and kill forests and lake life.
1986, Walter G Rosen reportedly first proposed the term biodiversity.
1/11/1986, A spill of toxic chemicals turned the River Rhine red.
1985, In response to concerns about the sustainability of tropical wood harvesting, and related matters such as soil erosion in deforested areas, some countries signed the International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA). However some countries did ont sign up.
29/12/1985, Dian Fossey, US zoologist and conservationist, died.
8/3/1985, Every Chinese child was ordered to donate one Feng (then equivalent to 2p) to save the Giant Panda from extinction.
1984, The pesticide DDT was banned in Britain.
31/8/1983, Russell Doig of Surrey won a special prize for catching a salmon in the Thames, the first salmon caught there for 150 years. The fish weighed 6 lb.
1982, Dutch Elm Disease killed 20 million elm trees in Britain, 66% of the total population.
12/8/1980, The first Giant Panda born in captivity was successfully delivered at a zoo in Mexico.
3/1/1980, British naturalist Joy Adamson, author of the book Born Free, was murdered in a Kenyan game park.
1979, An international convention limiting seal huntiing in Antarctica was agreed.
1978, US Congress banned the manufacture of PCBs (Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls) after they had been shown to persist in the environment and build up in higher food chain animals. PCBs, once used as coolant and insulators for industrial equipment,� could cause liver damage and impede reproduction.
1976, Pooper Scoopers were introduced so dog powners could clear up their pet�s faeces.
10/7/1976. After an explosion at a chemical plant at Seveso, Italy, a 7 km radius was contaminated with dioxin, a weed killer. Crops and 40,000 animals died, and the number of abnormal births rose dramatically.
12/11/1974. A salmon was caught in the Thames, the first since around 1840. It was retrieved from the filters of West Thurrock power station.
30/8/1973, Kenya banned hunting elephants and trading in ivory.
28/12/1973, US President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act, providing further environmental protection.
2/11/1973, The IMCO Conference for Marine Pollution attended by 665 delegates from 79 countries, ended in London.
29/6/1973,� President Nixon warned US Congress that the US, with just 6% of the world population, consumed one third of the world�s energy supply, and that energy supplies were not infinite.
1972, Blueprint for Survival was published by the editors of The Ecologist magazine.
1972, The USA restricted the use of the weedkiller DDT after it was found to cause thinning of bird�s egg shells, reducing their reproductive success.
1972, The Club of Rome published �The Limits to Growth�, highlighting the dangers of natural resource depletion.
1972, The USA passed the Clean water Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments. This followed spectacular incidents in 1969 when the Cuyahoga River, Ohio, caught fire, and in the same year a record fish die off of 26 million fish was recorded in Florida�s Lake Thomnotosassa, blamed on pollution from food processing plants.
16/11/1972, UNESCOs World Heritage Convention was adopted. This seeks to preserve sites of major cultural or biological significance around the world.
28/10/1972, The USA signed the Federal Noise Control Act, limiting noise emissions by trucks, buses, trains and construction equipment.
23/7/1972, The US launched Landsat I, a satellite that could monitor Earth�s natural resources and their depletion from space.
1969, Muskoxen, which became extinct from Alaska in the 19c, were reintroduced there.
1968, Cousin Island, Seychelles, was set up as an international wild bird reserve.
15/10/1966, In the USA, the Endangered Species Preservation Act came into force. Initially, 78 species in danger were listed. By April 1999, some species, such as the bald eagle and the black footed ferret, have come off the critical list but a further 925 species remained listed.
27/9/1962, Rachel Carson published �Silent Spring�. She was very concerned about the issue of pesticides in the environment. By December, half a million copies had been printed, and even US President John F Kennedy was influenced.
22/2/1962, Steve Irwin, environmentalist, was born.
1958, US scientist Charles Keeling first began regularly measuring atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa observatory, Hawaii. He found it to be 317 parts per million (ppm), noticeably higher than the pre-industrial level of 280 ppm (known from ancient air trapped in polar ice). There was seasonal cyclicity with levels declining during the Northern hemisphere Summer then rising in Autumn, but with s distinct upwards trend over the decades, the Keeling Curve. In Spring 2020 levels had reached 414 ppm, but the covid19 outbreak had reduced levels very slightly, as most travel and much industry shut down..
1958, A plague of locusts in Somalia was so large it covered 1,000 square kilometres.
22/12/1938. The coelacanth, a fish though to have been extinct for 65 million years, was caught off the coast of South Africa.
13/4/1938, Grey Owl, conservationist, died. He had styled himself as an indigenous Canadian, but was in fact English.
1935, The term �ecosystem� was first used by AG Tansley, to describe the entire interdendent system of organisms and the environment. The word was slow to gain popular usage.
1901, The term �biota� was first used to describe the animal and plant life of a region.
1866, Ernst Hackel, biologist, coined the term ecology (oecologie in German)
24/3/1936, David Suzuki, environmentalist, was born.
1935, In the US, President Roosevelt signed the Soil Conservation Act, nominating Hugh Hammond, 54, to head the new Soil Conservation Service. Hammond had estimated that in terms of diminished agricultural productivity alone, soil erosion was costing around US$ 400 million a year; dust storms were turning day into night and halting traffic.
1934, First known use of the term �biomass�, as in the total weight of all organisms in a certain area.
3/4/1934, Jane Goodall, British zoologist who studied gorillas in Tanzania in the 1960s, was born.
18/1/1933, The botanist and conservationist David Bellamy was born.
16/12/1932, Dian Fossey, US zoologist and conservationist was born.
18/10/1927. Dancing bears were banned from the streets of Berlin.
1926, The corgi dog, a short legged animal whose name means �dwarf dog� in Welsh, was introduced as a pet breed. It became popular amongst the British Royal Family.
1922, Australia began conservation measures to save the koala bear, after trappers had killed 8 million in 4 years and nearly driven the species to extinction.
9/1919, Dutch Elm Disease was first observed in The Netehrlands. By the 1930s it was spreading across the rest of Europe, including Britain, and had also reached the USA.
1915, In Britain, so-called �nature reserves� were set up; areas of land managed so as to preserve the natural flora and fauna.
7/7/1911, In Washington, DC, the USA, Russia, the UK and Japan signed the Convention on the International Protection of Fur Seals, prohibiting hunting of the endangered animals in the North Pacific Ocean. In the first six years afterwards, the fur seal population increased by 30%.
28/7/1907, Russia and Japan agreed to stop culling seals and sea-lions.
1909, The USA set up a National Bison Refuge near Moise, Montana.
27/5/1907, Rachel Louise Carson, marine biologist and US author, author of Silent Spring, was born.
1903, President Theodore Roosevelt established the USA�s first national wildlife refuge, at Pelican Island, off the east coast of Florida, 87 square miles.
1895, Arrhenius gave a paper to the Stockholm Physical Society propounding his theory of man-made global warming due to carbon dioxide.
1895, The rescue from extinction of the African Southern White Rhinocerous began. Until now they had been hunted almost to extinction until, this year, the South African Government set up a game reserve, now known as the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park, to maintain the species, of which just 40 were left. By the 1960s private landowners were also setting up reserves where the species could be preserved, for paying game shooters. The fee for the hunters was, 2009, US$ 40,000, making the species commercially-valuable.
1895, The buffalo, which had once numbered millions across America, was now down to just 400 in the entire USA.
1876, In the UK the Cruelty to Animals Act was passed, to curb the use of live animals in scientific experiments.
1859, Arrhenius, Swedish scientist who first proposed that man�s industrial emissions could cause global warming, was born.
1858, A few dozen English rabbits were released on the Australian estate of landowner Thomas Austin, to provide shooting sport. Over the next six years, Austin shot 200,000 rabbits, but this was barely half the total population. Five of the fast-breeding animals could eat more grass than one sheep, so causing major problems for sheep farmers.
21/4/1838, John Muir, US environmentalist who called for the preservation of wilderness areas, was born.
1835, Animal fighting � cockfights, bear and bull baiting � were banned in the UK.
1281, King Edward I commissioned Peter Corbet, �The Mighty Hunter�, to clear all wolves from England�s forests.
1220, The first giraffes were exhibited in Europe.
Appensix � Air Quality
4/3/1985, In the USA, the Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of leaded fuel for motor vehicles.
1971, It was announced that 250,000 tons of lead were being discharged from vehicle exhaust pipes every year in the US alone (see road transport technology). Lead pollution, first discovered in the animals at Staten Island Zoo, was also found inside humans living in New York.
5/7/1956, Britain passed the Clean Air Act. This gave industry seven years to stop emitting �dark smoke�. This was in the aftermath of the infamous 1952 London Smog, which kicked 4,000 people.
1951, Britain�s first smokeless zone was set up, in Coventry. In 1955 London was declared a smokeless zone. In 1956 Britain passed the Clean Air Act.
1935, Manchester first proposed the idea of smokeless zones in urban areas.
1929, In Britain, the National Smoke Abatement Society was set up.
29/11/1921, London suffered a severe smog, with pollution so bad that inside cinemas on Stoke Newington the projector lamp could not illuminate the screen.
1905, The term �smog� was coined for a combination of fog and smoke that affected London and other British cities, causing many deaths.
1/1/1864, In the US, the Alkali Act was passed. It was the first legislation of modern times concerning the environment. The Leblanc process of producing sodium carbonate released large amounts of hydrochloric acid into the atmosphere.
1856, In Britain, between 1853 and 1856, a series of Smoke Abatement Acts were passed in order to improve the quality of air in urban areas.
Appendix �� Extinctions
14/12/1994, In Australia the Wollemi pine, a relic from the age of the dinosaurs, was discovered growing in the Blue Mountains.
17/6/1987, The Dusky Seaside Sparrow became extinct as the last individual died. It had lived in the wetlands of Florida but much of its habitat was destroyed to make way for the Kennedy Space Centre and for new highways. Its food, mosquitoes, had been destroyed by DDT spraying, which then entered the birds themselves and caused their eggshells to thin, so their breeding was unviable. A captive breeding programme was begun at Disneyworld in the 1970s, but only 5 birds could be recovered, all male.� Attempts were made to cross-breed them with similar sparrows to preserve some of the species characteristics but this failed, and by 3/1986 only one of the sparrows was still alive.
1952, The cheetah was declared extinct in India. Hunting by the British, diminishing habitat, and killing by farmers as the animal threateed livestock, were to blame. In 2022 African cheetahs from Namibia and South Africa were reintroduced to a National park in Madhya Pradesh, India.
20/11/1948, The New Zealand flightless Takahe bird had only been sighted 4x between 1800 and 1900 and was presumed extinct. However this day Dr Geoffrey Orbell located the first individual of what was found to be a colony of 250 individuals in the Murchison Mountains, South Island.
1944, The last ivory-billed woodpecker died when its last habitat, a wood in Louisiana,USA, was felled by the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company.
1938, The Coelocanth fish was believed extinct until one was caught this year near the Comoros Islands.
6/9/1936, The last thylacine (Tasmanian marsupial tiger) died in a zoo in Hobart, Tasmania
1933, The last known Tasmanian Wolf died in a zoo; however there were later unverified reports of this animal in the wild.
1918, Death of the last California Parakeet, in captivity, The last confirmed sighting in the wild was in 1914, though there were alleged sightings for some decades afterwards.
1/9/1914, The last passenger pigeon, a bird which once dominated the skies of America, became extinct as the last individual died in Cincinnati Zoo.
12/8/1883, The last quagga (a sub-species of the zebra) died, at Amsterdam Zoo.
1875, Last sighting of the Falkland Islands wolf.
3/7/1844, The Great Auk became extinct when fishermen killed the last breeding pair of the flightless birds in Iceland.
1786, The last wolf was killed in Ireland, by John Watson of Ballydarton, Leighlinbridge, a master of foxhounds.
1768, Steller�s Sea Cow was hunted to extinction, just 27 years after the species after the species was discovered on the Kamchatka Peninsula.
1743, The last wolf was killed in Scotland.
1683, Wild boars became extinct in Britain.
1630, The last dodo was killed. Native to Mauritius, it was a flightless bird about the size of a turkey, prized by saillors for food. Meanwhile, rats, pigs and monkeys introduced to Mauritius ate the dodo�s eggs.
1627, The last auroch (ancestor of domestic cattle) died in Poland.
1297, The Giant Moas Bird was now extinct in what is now New Zealand.
1290, The last wolf in England was killed, by Peter Corbet, exterminator to King Edward I. This made it much safer to graze sheep. In turn this reinforced England�s leading position in the lucrative wool trade.
Appendix � Whaling
1/7/2019, Japan recommenced commercial whaling, having withdrawn from the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
2017, For the first time not one Right Whale calf was born in the northern Atlantic. Hunting them was banned in 1935; their numbers, then down to about 100, slowly recovered to 500 by 2000. Pollution, injuries from shipping, man-made marine noise, and entanglement in fishing paraphernalia have caused their humbers to drop again to 430 by 2017, including just 100 breeding-age females.
1994, A whale sanctuary was established in the Antarctic.
1992, Norway resumed whaling activities.
1/1/1986, The International Whaling Commission (IWC) placed a moratorium on commercial whaling. However some nations, including Norway, Iceland and Japan, continued to hunt whales under the guise of �scintific research� which was permitted by the IWC. However the ban had had a beneficial effect. In 1900, before commercial whaling took off, there were 200,000 blue whales worldwide. They were hunted for their ,massive oil content; 30,000 were killed in 1931 alone. Their population plummeted to just 1,500 in the 1960s. Since the IWC ban, they have recovered to a population of around 4,500 in 2005. However the global whale population, 4.4 million in 1900, had fallen to less than 1 million by 1990.
1985, Norway agreed to suspend commercial whaling. However it later allowed fishing for Minke Whale, and the export of whale products.
23/7/1982, The International Whaling Commission decided to end whaling by 1986.
1975, The International Whaling Commission (IWC) again proposed a 10-year moratorium on whaling, ewhich was again refused by the whaling nations, but the IWC did succeed in reducing annual quotas for the catch from 37,300 to 32,450 tons.
1966, Hunting for humpback whales was banned globally. Their slow speed made them easy to catch and it was estimated that 95%-99% of southern-hemisphere humpback whales had been killed for blubber and meat. The killing of humpbacks finally ceased in 1973 when the USSR suspended its illegal slaughtering. They are now no longer a threatened species, and attract tourists in the oceans off Australia.
1962, The International Whaling Commission met in Stockholm, amidts growing concern over the rapidly diminishing global whale population. A 10-year moratorium on whaling was proposed but whaling nations refused to accept this. Instead countire such as the UK and USA., where whale meat was was mainly for pet food, banned imports of it, curbing the growth of whaling to an extent.
1958, This year whalers killed 6,908 Blue Whales, the largest creature ever to live on Earth. In 1965 the year hunting for Blue Whales ceased, just 1 was found, and it was estimated that then just 1,000 remained in the oeeans. In 2020 there estimated to be 25,000 of them alive.
1946, The International Whaling Commission was established by the Washington Convention. Its aim was to ration out allowed whale catches amongst whaling nations, to try and preserve the industry.
6/9/1902, Whale hunt in the Shetlands. 166 were caught.
1862, Sven Foyn, Norwegian, invented the harpoon, revolutionising the whaling industry.
Appendix a - Environmental and Conservation Organisations (see also Morals � Animal Welfare)
1992, The British Green Party failed to match its success of 1989, winning just 1.3% of the vote in the General Election.
1989, The British Green Party, founded by Sara Parkin (born 1946) and Jonathan Porritt (born 1950) came from nowhere to take 2.3 million votes, a 15% share, in elections for the European Parliament.
1983, 28 �Greens� were elected to the German Bundestag.
1981, 9 �Green� MPs were elected to the Belgian Parliament.
1979, The first �Green� member of the Swiss parliament was elected.
1977, Sustrans was founded, in Bristol, to campaign for environmentally-sustainable transport and combat the problems of traffic congestion and pollution.
1976, Greenpeace was founded in Britain (see15/9/1971)
1973, In Britain the Ecological Party was founded � known since 1985 as the Green Party
15/9/1971, Greenpeace was founded, as a result of protests against a US nuclear test on Amchitka Island, Alaska. On this day Jim Bohlen, Paul Cote and Irving Stowe set sail in the boat Phyllis Cormack for the test site in the Quaker tradition of �proetsting by observing the misdeed�. The three protestors named their initiative �Greenpeace�. In the event ferocious storms both forced the boat to shelter in the Aleutian Islands and caused the nuclear test to be postponed. The test eventually took place on 6/11/1971; Greenpeace did succeed in mobilising public protests so that President Nixon cancelled the nuclear tests scheduled for 1971. In 1983 it had 1,500,000 members. By 1991 it had 6,750,000 members.
9/5/1971, In Britain, Friends of the Earth was founded. On this day its first action was to dump thousands of non-returnable Schweppes bottles on the doorstep of the company�s headquarters as part of a campaign for recyclable bottles.
29/4/1961, The World Wildlife Fund was founded in Switzerland. In 1983 it had 100,000 members. By 1991 it had 1,000,000 members.
1926, In Britain, the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) was set up by Patrick Abercrombie.
1924, The League Against Cruel Sports was formed to campaign against hunting, also hare coursing and badger baiting.
1946, The Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, was set up by Peter Scott.
1922, In London, UK,the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP) was founded.
1901, The term �bird-watching� came into use for a person who observes birds in the wild.
1891, The Society for the Protection of Birds (SPB) was founded by women who had been excluded by the all-male membership policy of the British Ornithologists Union (BOU). London, UK, had become the centre of a very rapacious trade in bird carcasses, with 200 million birds being killed each year to provide ornamentation for ladies hats. Egrets were prized for their long feathers. Within 6 months the SPB had 5,000 members, and 10,000 by by 1893. It achieved 20,000 members by 1899, and men were encoiuraged to join by making them �Life Associates�.In 1904 it became the RSPB when King Edward VII granted it a Royal Charter. Despite opposition from the British millinery trade, in 7/1921 the Importation of Plumage (Prohibition) Act was passed in the UK, and Britain became a centre for bird conservation instead.
7/9/1880, In Britain, the Wild Birds� Protection Act was passed.
1919, The Save The Redwoods League was formed in the USA. It helped create national parks in California where the huge tress wouldnot be felled by loggers.
20/9/1917. The first RSPCA animal clinic was opened in Liverpool.
5/1909, The Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia (WPSA) was founded in Sydney, Australia to encourage the protection of, and to cultivate interest in, the Australian flora and fauna.
11/12/1903, The first wildlife preservation society was formed in Britain.� It was called The Society for the Preservation of the Wild Fauna of the Empire.
1899, In Britain, the Coal Smoke Abatement Society was formed.
1897, The Blue Cross was founded, originally known as Our Dumb Friends� League. It changed its name to parallel the Red Cross. It opened an animal hospital in 1906 near Victoria Station, London.
1895, In Britain, the National Trust was founded.
10/4/1866, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Aniamls (ASPCA) was founded by New York shipbuilder�s son Henry Bergh, 43, who served as the first president of the ASPCA. It�s main objective was preventing the abuse of horses.
1860, Battersea Dogs Home was founded, initially sited in Holloway. By 1869 around 200 dogs were housed there and neighbours complained about the noise, and in 1871 the Home was moved to Battersea. Stray cats have also been taken in since 1882.
15/6/1824. The RSPCA was founded in London.