(STAR) Hotter temperatures and higher sea levels could devastate many Asian economies, displace millions of people and put millions more at risk from infectious disease, a new climate change report said Monday.

The report, conducted by Australia's main research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, predicted global temperatures will rise by up to 2 degrees Celsius by 2030, particularly in the arid regions of northern Pakistan, India and China.

It said there is "little room for optimism" about the effects of climate change in the Asia-Pacific region unless governments take immediate action to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

Warmer temperatures coupled with changing rainfall patterns, including more tropical cyclones, flooding and heavier monsoons, could put millions of people at greater risk of malaria, dengue fever and other infectious diseases, the report warned.

It also predicted that millions of people living in low-lying coastal communities in Bangladesh, Vietnam, China and many Pacific islands could become displaced as sea levels rise by up to 50 centimeters (20 inches) over the next 65 years.

"Local and regional economies will be hit hard from chronic food and water insecurity and epidemic disease as well as extreme weather events," said the report, which was commissioned by a range of environmental, church, and nongovernment organizations.

The report calls on the Australian government to help developing countries in the region invest in renewable energy sources and better prepare for large-scale natural disasters.

It also encourages Australia to review its immigration laws to take in people displaced by climate change.

US detects 4.2 magnitude quake in North Korea after nuclear test 10/09 2:21:54 PM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Geological Survey said Monday that it had detected an earthquake of a magnitude of 4.2 degrees on the Richter scale in North Korea as the country announced its first nuclear test.

In a statement, the USGS said the quake was recorded at 0135 GMT on Monday.

"It was a shallow event or very close to the surface," Rafael Abreau, a USGS geologist, told AFP.

"We don't have any additional information," he said. "One thing I can stress is that the magnitude and the locations are preliminary."

The USGS said the quake was located 385 kilometers (240 miles) northeast of the capital Pyongyang, 70 kilometers (45 miles) north of the North Korean town of Kimchaek and 90 kilometers (55 miles) southwest of the North Korean town of Chongjin.

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Pyongyang had conducted its first ever nuclear test Monday, calling it a "historic event."

The agency said the test was carried out safely and successfully and there was no radiation leak.

Dalai Lama warns against talk of 'clash of civilisations' 10/09 1:54:48 PM

NEW DELHI (AFP) - The Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, has warned against portraying Islam as a religion of violence, saying Muslims have been wrongly demonized in the West since the September 11 attacks.

Promoting religious tolerance, the world's most influential Buddhist leader said Sunday that talk of "a clash of civilisations between the West and Muslim world is wrong and dangerous."

Muslim terrorist attacks have distorted people's views of Islam, making them believe it is an extremist faith rather than one based on compassion, the Dalai Lama told a press conference in the Indian capital.

Muslims are being unfairly stigmatized as a result of violence by "some mischievous people," said the Dalai Lama, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his work to bring democracy and freedom to his people.

All religions have extremists and "it is wrong to generalize (about Muslims)," the 71-year-old spiritual leader said.

"They (terrorists) cannot represent the whole system," he said.

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala since fleeing Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, said he had cast himself in the role of defender of Islam because he wanted to reshape people's views of the religion.

Asked about the uproar last month when Pope Benedict XVI quoted a 14th-century Christian emperor to portray Islam as a religion tainted by violence, the Dalai Lama said "if you return to past history there are a lot of complications."

"It is better to forget ... and to deal with today's reality," he said.

"Past history is (full of) uncivilised events," he said.

Benedict had quoted statements by Emperor Manuel II -- ruling from what is now Istanbul -- that everything the Prophet Mohammed had brought was evil and that he spread Islam by violence.

The pontiff later apologised for the comments which triggered angry reactions around the world from Muslims who said the pope's statements harked back to the medieval Christian crusades against Islam.

The Dalai Lama noted the "conflict and divisions caused in the name of religion," referring to violence in such places as Ireland, Pakistan and Iraq.

But despite that "religion has great potential to help humanity on the basis of mutual respect," he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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