Keiko the orca whaleDec. 12, 1287:  One of the world’s first massive engineering projects fails, as seawalls protecting low-lying land in Holland fail. At least 50,000 die.

Dec. 12, 1952:  A research nuclear reactor at Chalk River, Ontario suffers a partial meltdown after a series of explosions and steam releases.  A young U.S. Navy officer named Jimmy Carter participates in the cleanup. Carter is President during the worst nuclear accident in the U.S. at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania in 1979.

Dec. 12, 2003:  Keiko, the orca whale (at right) that was captured off Iceland, displayed in a tank at marine parks in Canada and Mexico, then “liberated” with a flight to a better-equipped aquarium in Oregon, dies in a fjord in Norway. Keiko inspires worldwide support and a fictionalized box office hit, "Free Willy", but an elaborate plan to reintroduce him to the wild ends in failure.

Dec. 12, 2008:  "The Day the Earth Stood Still" is released.  The remake of a 1951 science-fiction hit stars Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connolly in a story about a visitor to Earth who brings an ultimatum:  If humans don’t stop destroying the Earth, he’ll finish the job for them.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This feature is compiled by Peter Dykstra, an MNN contributor and publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate.

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