By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA (Ponds on the Ocean Uploaded by PDTillman) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Two big, related, issues in this week’s round-up: climate change and human rights. Major international events were held to highlight both but, as the links below illustrate, they were woefully underreported by the media. So quiet, you could almost hear the ice melting…

CLIMATE CHANGE: From November 26 to December 7, world leaders gathered again, this time in Doha, for a round of diplomatic maneuvers and baton passing loosely disguised as negotiation at the 18th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change, or COP 18. Although there was a substantial presence of faith groups and religious leaders at the talks, there was also a dearth of reporting on their role in climate change negotiations. The Associated Press provided one exception, with this piece on Muslim environmental activists and their disappointment at the lack of Muslim leadership in the climate debate.

The Catholic Register reported on efforts by the Canadian Catholic Bishops and the Council of Churches to push their  government into action on climate change in Doha. And need we mention that Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance was once again urging us to use more fossil fuels? According to a post by Mark Silk at the Religion News Service, not to do so would be “wicked and lazy,” if Beisner’s reference to the Parable of the Talents in an interview with Bryan Fischer is anything to go by. But there’s hope yet! More than 60 percent of Americans believe that the recent severe weather is due to climate change, reports Lauren Markoe at the Religion News Service. But, more than a third believe it’s just a sign of the times – the end of times, that is.

Meanwhile, Saleem H Ali for Pakistan’s The Friday Times, suggests that climate change and environmental problems could “turn conflict into cooperation.” Could environmental problems, arguably “more potent but also more tractable than ethno-religious violence,” provide a platform for dialogue in a region torn by conflict?


HUMAN RIGHTS
: On Monday December 10, people across the world marked International Human Rights Day. The global event received very little attention in the international press but AP photographers did capture scenes of the day. Reuters reported that thousands of Tibetans marched on the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Monday to protest Chinese rule.

Constraints on religious freedom and sectarian violence are amongst the most pressing of the world’s human rights concerns. This year’s theme, “Inclusion and the Right to Participate,” was taken up in a Jakarta Post editorial, which notes the work of Tempo magazine for it’s reporting on the treatment of the minority Ahmadiyya Muslims in Indonesia.  Ahmadis, who believe that Muhammed was not the last prophet and who are described as heretical by other Muslims, also suffer persecution in Pakistan, as Saba Eitizaz reports in this article for Pakistan’s The Friday Times. On December 12, the humanitarian news service, IRIN[1],  expressed concern for religious minorities in Egypt who have not benefitted from the change of regime in the country.

Egypt and Pakistan are among 16 “countries of particular concern” that have engaged in “particularly severe” violations of religious freedoms, as designated by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its 2012 Annual Report, among them: Burma, the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the People‘s Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.



[1] Integrated Regional Information Networks