Aswan High DamJuly 21, 365 A.D.: An earthquake believed to be magnitude-8.0 or higher causes widespread destruction on the Greek island of Crete. A tsunami from the quake also devastates Alexandria, Egypt.

July 21, 1970: The Aswan High Dam (at right, in 2008) is completed across the Nile River. A pet project of Egyptian President Gamel Abdul Nasser, the dam's construction, partly financed by the Soviet Union, raises Cold War tensions. The dam controls the nearly-annual floods along the Nile, but its construction has a negative side effect: Those floods deposited fertile soil along the banks of the Nile, and the end of the flooding begins hard times for Egyptian farmers.

July 21, 1980: Wilson Pinheiro, head of the Brazilian Rubber Tappers' Union and a fierce opponent of deforestation of the Amazon, is murdered. His colleague, Chico Mendes, meets the same fate eight years later.

July 21, 2012: In a year scarred by a seemingly global outbreak of bizarre weather, unprecedentedly heavy rains wash through Beijing. The government’s announced death toll of 77 is criticized as unrealistically low, and the city’s mayor abruptly resigns. Critics blame poor infrastructure planning during a frantic decade of growth for China’s capital city.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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

July 21
The Aswan High Dam is completed, and a protector of the Amazon is murdered.