Editor, The World Today
Any satellite orbiting the Earth – there are currently 1,300 of them and counting – can become a space weapon. This is the sobering message of our cover story. We rely on satellites more and more for navigation, communications and countless aspects of modern life, but their safety has been neglected.

 

As Patricia Lewis writes, satellites are vulnerable to many forms of attack. They could be taken under hostile control, causing collisions and producing a cloud of space debris that makes the orbital environment unusable. A Star Wars future is not inevitable, writes Jill Stuart, but preventing it will require careful, informed diplomatic work.

David Miliband, the former Foreign Secretary now in charge of the International Rescue Committee, outlines how donors can best use funds to help victims of the Syria crisis. The neighbouring states need long-term support to enable adult refugees to work and children to go to school.

Climate change is complex, but Walt Patterson sums up the issue in a four-letter word: fire. Humanity has flourished thanks to the use of fire, but now he says it is time to put it out.

It was not so long ago that critics of President Obama were condemning his use of sanctions as insufficient to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In the end they worked, but as former sanctions enforcer Richard Nephew writes, it was a close call. Keeping regional countries – such as the UAE and Turkey – in line was the key.

Finally, it was 20 years ago that a gunman murdered 16 school children in the Scottish town of Dunblane. Iain Overton examines the subsequent UK ban on handguns. It seems to have had the desired effect, but will other countries follow suit?

Alan Philps