The cracked earth of the bank of Yangtze RiverMarch 26, 1812: Natural disaster deals a setback to a new nation as Venezuela is hit by an estimated 7.7 magnitude earthquake. The "Caracas Earthquake" claims between 15,000 and 20,000 lives.

March 26, 1971: Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) opens the first of its six reactors at Fukushima Dai-Ichii. Forty years later, what had grown into a six-reactor complex is swamped by a tsunami caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Fukushima joins Chernobyl as a symbol of concern about the risks of nuclear power generation.

March 26, 2007: The Chinese Government reports that up to 10 million people are suffering from drought-induced water shortages in the southern part of the country (at right).

March 26, 2009: In one of the largest wilderness protection measures in U.S. history, Congress authorizes the protection of two million acres in nine states. President Obama signs the measure four days later.

March 26, 2009:  In a pivotal White House meeting, the two-month-old Obama Administration tells environmental leaders that it will downplay its concerns about climate change in favor of working to restore the nation’s faltering economy.

March 26, 2012:  ProPublica reporter Abrham Lustgarten releases the book "Run to Failure." It’s a revealing history of the reckless, bullet-proof mentality that led oil giant BP to its catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Photo: ZUMA Press

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