South Asia

Himalayan glaciers could be mostly gone by 2100

Rising temperatures in the Himalayas will melt at least one-third of the region's glaciers by the end of the century even if the world's most ambitious climate change targets are met, according to a new report. If those goals are not reached, the Himalayas could lose two-thirds of their glaciers by 2100, according to the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment, released by the Kathmandu-bsed International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. Under that scenario, the Himalayas could heat up by 8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) by century's end, bringing radical disruptions to food and water supplies, and mass population displacement. Glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region, which spans over 2,000 miles of Asia, provide water to nearly a quarter of the world's population. (Photo via Nepali Times)

Planet Watch

Doomsday Clock: two minutes of midnight

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists advanced the minute hand of its Doomsday Clock to two minutes of midnight from its previous two-and-a-half minutes. "In 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago—and as dangerous as it has been since World War II," the Bulletin said. Finding that the "greatest risks last year arose in the nuclear realm," the statement of course cited the crisis over North Korea's atomic weapons program, but also ongoing military exercises along the borders of NATO, upgrading of nuclear arsenals by the US and Russia, tensions over the South China Sea, a nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan, and uncertainty about continued US support for the Iran nuclear deal. These threats are worsened by "a breakdown in the international order that has been dangerously exacerbated by recent US actions." (Image: misucell.com)

South Asia

Hatred of Ahmadis behind Pakistan protests

The protests that paralyzed Islamabad and other Pakistani cities were ostensibly sparked by changes to the oath of office, eliminating text recognizing Mohammed as God's final prophet. But behind this was orthodox Sunni fear of the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect, which holds that 19th century founder Mirza Gulam Ahmed was the last prophet. As the protests mounted, Ahmadi Muslims faced threats across Pakistan, the Islamic world and the diaspora.

South Asia

South Asia: millions more ‘climate refugees’

With stateside media focused on the unprecedented flooding and cascading industrial disasters from Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the far great deluges that have struck three countries in South Asia are going largely unreported. Up to 40 million have been impacted after weeks of unusually strong monsoon rains affecting India, Bangladesh and Nepal—adding to the fast-growing ranks of "climate refugees," now a nearly invisible global crisis.

South Asia

India: Islamic ‘instant divorce’ law unconstitutional

The Supreme Court of India ruled that the sharia-based "instant divorce" law, which allowed Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying the word "talaq" three times, was unconstitutional. The court found that the practice is gender-discriminatory and noted that several countries with sizable Muslim populations do not allow the talaq instant divorce. The court has given a six-month period for the talaq divorce to be redefined or simply done away with altogether.

Planet Watch

Doomsday Clock: 2.5 minutes of midnight

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the minute hand of its symbolic Doomsday Clock from three minutes to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.

Watching the Shadows

Obama’s final year: a CounterVortex scorecard

With a Trump despotism looming, CounterVortex offers its final assessment of Barack Obama's record in addressing the oppressive legacy of the Global War on Terrorism.

Planet Watch

UN moves to outlaw nuclear weapons in 2017

The UN adopted a resolution—hailed by disarmament campaigners as an important landmark—to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons.

Oceania

World Court turns down nuclear arms case

The International Court of Justice refused to hear a claim by the Marshall Islands that the UK, India and Pakistan have failed to fulfill treaty obligations to halt the nuclear arms race.