Cyclone BholaNov. 9, 1965: An improperly set switch at a power plant in Ontario triggers a series of shutdowns in the northeastern U.S. and Canada, knocking out power for an estimated 30 million people. The blackout lasts less than six hours in most places and does not have overly tragic consequences, but it sends a powerful message on the limits to power consumption and growth. A more damaging blackout cripples New York 12 years later.

Nov. 9, 1970: The Indian Meteorological Agency upgrades a storm in the Bay of Bengal to cyclone status. Cyclone Bhola (at right) barrels into low-lying Bangladesh three days later, the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane. The death toll is estimated at between 300,000 and 500,000. The tragedy inspires a wave of philanthropy in the West, most notably George Harrison’s fund-raising Concert for Bangladesh.

Nov. 9, 1993: Former U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot and Vice President Al Gore face off in a debate over the merits of the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. The CNN debate sets records for cable TV viewing. Gore defends NAFTA despite wide criticism of its environmental provisions; Perot presses the argument that NAFTA will drain American industrial towns of jobs, which is pretty much what happened.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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