Kate Galbraith

One Cheer for the Climate Deal

The landmark deal won’t cut China’s emissions for more than a decade, and it’s going to be tough for the U.S. to meet its requirements. But it's a good start.

Historic. Landmark. Game changer. These are the weighty descriptors being used to analyze the climate change deal that the United States and China announced this week during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Beijing. It's a good start, but the media's breathless reaction might be wishful thinking.

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Obama's Ocean Gambit

Obama just created a Pacific Ocean reserve almost twice the size of Texas to curb fishing and oil drilling. But it might be too little too late.

The world's most obvious crises -- Ebola, the Islamic State, the mysterious Khorasan Group -- lie on land. But turmoil is also roiling the seas.

U.S. President Barack Obama recognized this reality last month when he massively expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument near Johnston Atoll, Wake Atoll, and Jarvis Island, strips of land that had been used as U.S. military airfields and refueling docks during World War II and nuclear testing in the 1950s. In a bid to preserve biodiversity, the remote 490,000-square-mile area -- so remote that even Google Maps has yet to properly catalog it -- will remain off-limits to commercial fishing and oil drilling and will become the world's largest ocean preserve.

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Environmentalism Is Dead

How America abandoned its role as leader of the fight to save the planet -- and killed a movement.

Grand words and pledges flowed out of the United Nations climate change summit in New York this week, as they always do when the world pauses to remember the dangers of melting glaciers and rising seas. This time, businesses -- including a few oil companies -- joined U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders in vowing to rein in climate-warming emissions. Yet, as the Washington Post's Wonkblog put it, "What good is a climate summit without emissions cuts?"

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That’s a Mighty Nice Climate Change Plan, America

But now the question is: Will it survive 2016? 

No wonder U.S. President Obama hopped on a flight to Europe this week. On June 2, when his environmental chief rolled out a massive proposed rule that would force power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2030 (relative to 2005 levels), Republicans vied to lambaste the plan, which House Speaker John Boehner dismissed simply as "nuts." In Europe, Obama can expect a kinder reception. The European Union climate chief, Connie Hedegaard, hailed the proposal as the "strongest action ever taken by the U.S. government to fight climate change" -- even as she urged every country, the United States included, to do "even more."

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My Name Is China, and I Have a Pollution Problem

Farmland is contaminated, tourism is down, and companies are packing up. Beijing's first step needs to be admitting that it has an environmental crisis.

Buried in this month's China headlines -- about the gas pipeline deal with Russia, the U.S. Department of Justice's indictment of Chinese military hackers, and saber rattling with Vietnam -- was this juicy morsel: Petco and PetSmart will soon stop selling dog and cat treats made in China. Big Pet does not want your puppies getting sick from contaminated jerky. Thousands of reported pet illnesses have not been definitively linked to the Chinese-made munchies, but it hardly matters: The "Made in China" label has become toxic. Over the years, tainted milk, pork, and infant formula have made people jittery.

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