With American politics dominating the headlines over the last month, some important environmental news didn't get much attention - namely, the collapse of talks aimed at dealing with global warming.

Center stage at these talks in the Netherlands - something called the Kyoto Protocol. Drawn up in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, the protocol is an international agreement to tackle climate change. Specifically, it calls for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, or CO2, the primary gas in the global warming controversy.

The talks broke down when some industrialized countries, led by the U.S., proposed an alternative to cutting CO2 emissions. This alternative counts forests and grasslands as "credit." The idea is that because plants naturally remove CO2 from the air, the more forests a country has, the less it should have to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. This didn't go over too well with less industrialized countries.

And that brings us back to politics. The United States' willingness to compromise in future talks likely depends on who becomes the next president.

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