Walden PondSept. 17, 1940: The Universal Zonolite Insulation Company of Libby, Mont., sends a letter to the state Health Department, asking if the company is liable for “occupational disease” claims at the company’s vermiculite mines. Seven decades later, the W.R. Grace Company and three of its executives are acquitted of poisoning the town and covering up evidence of asbestos contamination from the mine they purchased from Universal.

Sept. 17, 1991: Millionaire developer and publisher Mortimer Zuckerman throws in the towel at Walden Pond (at right). Zuckerman’s stake in a proposed office park development in the middle of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Woods, where Thoreau wrote the classic environmental book "Walden" sparks a bitter feud. Opposed by a group led by rock musician Don Henley, Zuckerman bails out of the office project, effectively killing it.

Sept. 17, 1994: The TV movie "The Burning Season" debuts. Raul Julia plays Chico Mendes and Edward James Olmos plays Wilson Pinheiro. Both men are union activists fighting deforestation of the Amazon, and in separate incidents eight years apart, both are assassinated. The film, based on a book by Andrew Revkin, wins three Golden Globe Awards.

Sept. 17, 2008: Phil Clapp, founding CEO of the National Environmental Trust and deputy managing director of the Pew Environment Group, dies in Amsterdam. Clapp is lauded as a consummate negotiator and communicator, credited with having a hand in federal laws on fisheries, climate, energy and public lands.

Sept. 17, 2011:  The first Occupy Wall Street protest forms in Manhattan’s Zucotti Park. The broadbased, sometimes chaotic protests spread to cities worldwide, calling for greater economic equality and less corporate dominance on a wide range of issues, including environment.  The movement is inspired and initially organized by Canada’s Adbusters campaign.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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