Race at Michigan International SpeedwayAug. 16, 1896: The Klondike Gold Rush begins, ushering in a brief era of hand-made destruction of pristine streams.  A hundred thousand fortune seekers pour into what is now the Alaska Panhandle and the Canadian Yukon town of Dawson over the next two years, finding little gold, but leaving a big mess.

Aug. 16, 1911: E.F. Schumacher is born in Germany. The economist is known for predicting the rise of OPEC and its environmental and economic impact. Schumacher’s classic 1973 book, "Small Is Beautiful," challenges the idea that “bigger is better,” and suggests that the world would be better off without massive, centralized economies.

Aug. 16, 2008: NASCAR proclaims its weekend of races at the Michigan International Speedway to be “carbon neutral.” Ostensibly, a donation to support tree-planting by the Conservation Fund would absolve the NASCAR cars, crews, and 100,000-plus spectators of carbon-emissions guilt by offsetting the estimated 4,200 tons of carbon emitted for the weekend.

Photo: tequilamike/Flickr

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