April 5, 1815: Indonesia's Mount Tambora erupts, killing between 70,000 and 100,000 people. The volcano has global impact, as ash and sulfur encircle the earth, lowering global temperatures. The impacts build in 1816, which is known as "The Year Without Summer."
April 5, 1989: A team of scientists present a paper at a marine debris conference, warning of a growing mass of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean. Years later, the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" (similar to the one at right) becomes an appalling icon of humanity’s environmental impact.
April 5, 2001: John B. Oakes dies. The longtime opinion editor of the New York Times was an ardent environmental advocate. Oakes is credited with inventing the newspaper op-ed page. He served on the Board of the Natural Resources Defense Council and his family founded and funds the Oakes Award for Environmental Journalism at Columbia University.
April 5, 2010: The Chinese coal-hauling ship Shen Neng I runs aground while attempting a shortcut through Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The reef is damaged, and the ship's two highest officers are arrested for the incident.
Photo: Mario Aguilera, Scripps Institution of Oceanography/AP