Kate Galbraith

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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Put Down Your Pistols: Cap and Trade Isn't Dead Yet

The latest U.N. report says that the darling climate strategy isn't working. But that doesn't mean it's dead. For climate advocates, those are fighting words.

Cap-and-trade efforts to combat global warming have often come under fire from politicians. And sometimes literally. Back in 2010, West Virginia's now-Senator Joe Manchin memorably loaded a rifle, aimed it at a paper copy of the cap-and-trade bill, and pulled the trigger -- all for a campaign ad. "I'll take dead aim at the cap-and-trade bill," he intoned as he fired. Off the rifle range, more prosaic critiques of cap and trade include "job-killing" and "utter disaster."

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Shouting 'Melting' in a Crowded Theater

Can anyone de-wonkify climate change warnings and actually get people to listen?

The drumbeat of headlines from the new U.N. climate report has been loud and insistent: "Global Warming Impacts Widespread, U.N. Panel Says"; "Panel's Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come"; "New U.N. Report: Climate Change Risks Destabilizing Human Society." But the most telling one of all comes from Newsweek -- "Climate Change: Is Anybody Listening?"

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