Jan. 4, 1950: In his annual State of the Union Address, U.S. President Harry S. Truman makes a pitch for the Peaceful Atom: "In the peaceful development of atomic energy, particularly, we stand on the threshold of new wonders. The first experimental machines for producing useful power from atomic energy are now under construction."

Iron Eyes CodyJan. 4, 1965: As part of his "National Agenda," Lyndon B. Johnson says, "I propose that we increase the beauty of America and end the poisoning of our rivers and the air that we breathe." It is the most direct reference to date by a U.S. president of the nation's air and water pollution problems.

Jan. 4, 1993: More than 30,000 people turn out for a march to protest oil industry pollution in the Ogoni homeland of Nigeria. The Ogoni people say they were promised wealth from the oil drilling, but they've seen only destroyed farmland and fisheries after decades of oil drilling on their land. The day is now marked annually as "Ogoni Day." Two years later, Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others are executed by the Nigerian government.

Jan. 4, 1999: Iron Eyes Cody (at right), an icon of the growing environmental movement, dies. A Hollywood bit player cast in Native American roles for years, Cody was cast in a 1971 ad where he canoes down a stream as large factories come into view. Cody beaches his canoe and a passing motorist hurls a bag of trash at his feet. A lone tear streams down Cody's cheek. But alas, Cody's real name was Espera di Corti, and he was a full-blooded Italian.

Jan. 4, 2012:  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sets some limits on antibiotic use in farm animals, only days after declining to more widely police farm drug use.  Critics say heavy reliance on antibiotics in poultry and livestock may backfire, encouraging resistance in farm animals.

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

January 4
Two Presidents make the case for a green future and an environmental symbol dies.