ENN Weekly: February 14th - 18th

After seven years of often-contentious debate, the Kyoto climate treaty went into effect on Wednesday with 141 nations on board.

After seven years of often-contentious debate, the Kyoto climate treaty went into effect on Wednesday with 141 nations on board. With the broad objective of curbing global warming, the accord puts restrictions on emissions from industrialized countries, with exemptions built in for developing nations including India and China. Arguing that the accord is discriminatory and that it would have a detrimental impact on the economy, the U.S. renounced it when President Bush took office in 2001. For a more thorough overview: Feted and Hated, Kyoto Enters into Force.

More articles related to the Kyoto Protocol:
Bush Puts Jobs Ahead of Climate Treaty Targets
Russia's UES Close to Large Kyoto-Linked Deals
Britain Criticizes US Climate Change Record
Ice Kangaroos, Koalas Melt in Kyoto Protest
Canada Plans to Buy Kyoto Green Credits Abroad
Kyoto Host Japan Still Far from Greenhouse Targets

Most pregnant women know to avoid smoking and pesticide exposure, but now there's evidence that even the simple act of breathing "regular" air might be enough to damage a fetus. New research published this week in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, makes the ominous suggestion that air pollution has the potential to cause genetic alterations in fetuses. Dr. Frederica Perera, senior author of the study, said, "We already knew that air pollutants significantly reduced fetal growth, but this is the first time we've seen evidence that they can change chromosomes in utero." Read the whole story here: Pollution May Affect Babies' Genes

December's tsunami illustrated with horrifying detail just how powerful ocean waves can be. But some scientists say that it might be possible to harness the power of the ocean as an alternative energy source. In Scotland, an experimental wave energy project conducted last summer proved successful in powering 500 homes. In the U.S., some see exciting potential for the developing technology -- with experiments planned on both coasts -- while environmental regulators and conservation groups review possible impacts on wildlife and ecosystems. Read more at U.S. Cities Eye Ocean Waves for Power Supplies.

The week's news included a wealth of interesting articles about wildlife, from aggressive ants to pooping pandas. In no particular order, a selection of stories from the menagerie:
Little Fire Ants Invade the Big Island
Kenya Seizes Smuggled Baby Chimps Crammed into Cage
Group Seeks Protection for Polar Bears
Mexico Reports 75-Percent Drop in the Number of Monarch Butterflies
California Elks Will Be Sent to Roam Free
Rampant Lobster Disease Mystifies Scientists
Defecating Pandas Expand Their Horizons

On a sad note, Dorothy Stang, a 73-year-old American nun who had lived in Brazil for more than three decades, died last Saturday after being shot six times at close range. An outspoken defender of the Amazon rainforest, Stang is believed to have been the victim of a fierce conflict in Brazil that pits ranchers and loggers against environmentalists. This story provides some background on Stang's work and the circumstances of her murder: Thousands Gather for Funeral of American Nun as Battle over Amazon Intensifies.

Thursday brought a sign that Dorothy Stang's tragic death has been a catalyst for the kind of change that Stang wished for during her lifetime: Brazil's President ordered the formation of two reserves with a total area of more than nine million acres. Announcing the decrees, Environment Minister Marina Silva said, "We can't give in to people committing acts of violence. The government is putting the brakes on in front of the predators." Read more here: Brazil's President Creates Massive Forest Reserves after Killing of American Nun.

Check in with ENN for updates on stories like these and for the very latest environmental news and commentary.

Source: ENN