Big Ben trafficFeb. 17, 1993: In his first State of the Union address, U.S. President Bill Clinton promotes the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and promises "appropriate safeguards for our workers and for the environment." Clinton also proposes a "BTU tax" on energy consumption, and observes, "I'd like to use that Superfund to clean up pollution for a change and not just pay lawyers."

Feb. 17, 2003: The London Congestion Charge debuts. Mayor Ken Livingstone invokes the controversial measure in which each motorist entering central London must pay a daily £5 ($8) fee. The charge is intended to reduce accidents, gridlock and pollution (at right). Traffic drops by 25 percent on the first day.

Feb. 17, 2006: A massive mudslide buries a town on the Philippine island of Leyte. Years of deforestation and irresponsible mining are blamed for the slide, which kills more than 1,100. About one-quarter of the fatalities are children inside an elementary school that is engulfed by the landslide.

Feb. 17, 2011:  Japan’s whaling fleet quits this year’s hunt in the Antarctic, citing harassment from Sea Shepherd activists.

Photo: yashima/Flickr

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