'49er gold rushDec. 5, 1848:  U.S. President James K. Polk delivers a powerful sales pitch for what will soon become the California Gold Rush when he mentions the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill during his annual Message to Congress.  John Sutter and James Marshall had tried to keep their find a secret, but no such luck.  Over 300,000 fortune-seekers (such as the man photographed at right) come to California in the next seven years.  An estimated 100,000 die of cholera.

Dec. 5, 1991:  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issues rules authorizing “pollution credits” — essentially setting up a free market system to reward coal-burning utilities that reduce acid rain-causing emissions.  Over the next two decades, the emissions-trading scheme is credited with reducing acid rain damage, but in 2010, it fails when Congress considers applying the same concept to greenhouse gases.

Dec. 5, 2007:  A bill to limit greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade system passes out of committee in the U.S. Senate.   Sponsored by Republican John Warner of Virginia and Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the measure gets strong Democratic support, but fails to get the needed 60 votes to avoid filibuster.  Senators Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Larry Craig of Idaho offer 150 amendments to the bill in order to sidetrack it.

Dec. 5, 2011:  Wildlife experts announce that only 18 to 22 Siberian Tigers remain in the wild in Northeast China.

Dec. 5, 2012:  Tropical Cyclone Pablo strikes the southern Philippines, killing over 1,000, mostly from flooding.  It is the second flood disaster to strike the nation in three months.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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