John MuirApril 21, 1838: John Muir (at right), legendary conservationist and founder of the Sierra Club, is born in Dunbar, Scotland.

April 21, 1948: Aldo Leopold, one of America's first great nature writers and the father of wildlife ecology, dies in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, published the year after his death, became a literary classic, and he co-founded the Wilderness Society.

April 21, 1980: On the eve of the tenth anniversary of the first Earth Day, toxic waste drums ignite and explode at the Chemical Control Company in Elizabeth, NJ. Fears of widespread contamination forces the closure of schools in the area, and fishing is banned in the New York-New Jersey area for the next 72 hours.

April 21, 2011:  Record drought spawns record wildfires throughout the south Central U.S. Over a million acres burn in Texas alone, where portions of all but two of the state’s 254 counties are at risk of wildfire, or are ablaze.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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