June 20, 1974: The movie "Chinatown" is released. Jack Nicholson stars as a scruffy detective who stumbles upon murder and intrigue in this fictional account of the real-life political wars over the water supply that built Los Angeles.
June 20, 1974: In a confluence of espionage and environment, the Glomar Explorer (at right) sails to mine manganese from the ocean floor. In 1975, the Los Angeles Times reveals that the ship is owned by billionaire Howard Hughes and is on a covert mission to retrieve a sunken Soviet sub northwest of the Hawaiian Islands. News reports say that the ship retrieved much of the sub, and later it launched some unsuccessful seabed-mining efforts.
June 20, 1975: The movie "Jaws" debuts. It becomes one of the biggest successes in Hollywood history, but the film also increases interest in fishing for large sharks. Peter Benchley, who wrote the "Jaws" book, later recognized that his book was adding to the threat to the survival of shark species. He became a crusader, protecting sharks until his death in 2006.
June 20, 1979: President Jimmy Carter dedicates a system of 32 passive solar panels installed on the White House roof. "A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken," Carter says, "or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people." The panels are removed seven years later by the Reagan administration.
June 20, 2012: A Washington Post poll reports that over 60 percent of Americans see environmental conditions deteriorating due to human impact.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons