- The Washington Times - Friday, December 30, 2005

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Al-Ahram

Denuclearizing the Middle East

CAIRO — The dream of freeing the Middle East, in its entirety, of all weapons of mass destruction should not lose its holistic character. Attempts or proposals forwarded by Western and regional powers — or regional parties on behalf of international players — to divide the issue up into separate parts are certain to harm the collective interest of the region in attaining comprehensive security and stability.

During the past few years, Israel has insisted that its nuclear capacity — which remains subject to a policy of ambiguity, even before the world’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency — should only be dealt with in context of a comprehensive settlement concerning its disputed occupation of Arab territories. Unfortunately, this disingenuous call has received significant international support, especially as Israel is not a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which all other Middle Eastern states — Iran included — are party. …

Thus, it was disturbing to hear official statements coming out of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit this week putting clear emphasis on the issue of Iran’s nuclear energy aspirations and a less than plain emphasis on Israeli nuclear weapons. The angry reaction of the GCC leaders to a request forwarded by the Arab League secretary-general for the six GCC members to accord equal attention to Israel is difficult to appreciate, especially in view of the fact that there is ample evidence that Iran has no access to nuclear weapons — even if it entertains the wish to — and that Israel, according to common Western estimates, has around 200 nuclear warheads with a range that could reach Gulf countries and not only Egypt, as some GCC officials tried to indicate.

The language ultimately adopted in the final communique of the GCC summit on the need to free the entire Middle East is the right line to pursue, but must be pursued comprehensively.

The Age

The greenhouse effect

MELBOURNE, Australia — Late this year, the people of the Carteret Islands gave up. Rising seas had turned their home, low-lying atolls off Papua New Guinea, into a salty and difficult place to live. The decision was made to move, 10 families at a time, to drier ground on nearby Bougainville.

These islanders were just one of nature’s many victims in 2005. From creeping oceans to terrifying hurricanes, this was the year Mother Nature reminded us who has the upper hand. …

While you can never categorically attribute one weather event to global warming — the system is too chaotic — the events of this year revealed the human hand on the climate levers. …

In 2005, research found that levels of carbon dioxide, the main global-warming gas, were higher than at any time in the past 625,000 years. In Australia, it was the hottest year since records began. Signs of a warming world were everywhere: widespread coral bleaching in the Caribbean, Arctic sea ice shrinking to record-low levels; glaciers on Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet suddenly racing toward the sea and melting.

Against this backdrop, the world’s nations met in Montreal this month to discuss the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to cut global warming pollution. The United States’ negotiators did their best to block action and stymie talks on a post-Kyoto agreement. But despite these efforts, and Australia’s, Kyoto survived and will be extended into something more ambitious. …

So what needs to be done? Another year has passed, and with it, 7.5 trillion kilograms [82,673,348 U.S. tons] of carbon dioxide has been released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels. The window of opportunity to turn around the slow-moving beast that is the climate system exists only for the next 10 years. …

The public mood is shifting, ever so slowly, on global warming, but there is a disconnect between people’s concern and their behavior.

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