Although economic recession and unemployment has diverted the attention from the environmental issues and put it in the back burner for a brief period, its significance is increasing with every passing day and the growing realization that both financial and environmental issues are interrelated.
The scientific research and conclusions have helped the scientific community and decision makers to conclude that the carbon emissions and the greenhouse gases are deteriorating the climate transformation resulting in floods, hurricanes, droughts, earthquakes and tsunamis. According to them the main reason for this is due to the human factors. The melting glaciers and the rising sea levels will lead to extinction of species, mass migration of societies and create new climate refugees.
The rising temperatures will spread and create new diseases and reduce the agricultural yield and accessibility to drinking water, in turn leading to economic woes, hunger and poverty.
To counter this and to reduce the consequences of climate change, for years scientists and environmentalists have been researching and developing new technologies and strategies to reduce greenhouse gases and carbon emission and advising the world leaders to make the harsh and immediate actions for us to change our lifestyle. Many government and non-government organizations are coming out with innovative, sustainable ideas and renewable energy to counter the impact of climate change.
But despite all these measures, according to a very recent report of the US state department of energy, the global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record. The world pumped about 564 million more tonnes of carbon into the air in 2010 than it did in 2009, an increase of six percent.
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These figures show that most of the solution and actions taken by the governments and environmental organizations where either partial or superficial and has not made any difference in the ground reality.
What is the Main Reason for Global Warming?
The major reason is the universally applied western and capitalistic way of economic growth and development and the over global exploitation of natural resources to meet our selfish ends recklessly. The unwarranted deforestation, over utilization of fossil fuels and coal, industrial wastes which are discarded into the rivers and on wastelands, the poisonous gases emitted from Industries, the nuclear wastes from nuclear plants have all been the results of western model of economic development.
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, due to the shift in focus of economic activities from agriculture and farming to Industrial, manufacturing and commercial sectors, the earnings increased tremendously. As a result of this multiple earning and unlimited profit in the industrial sector people started neglecting farming and many of the farming communities changed to Industrial neighborhoods.
Secondly, western and capitalistic view on lifestyle, profit motive, consumer culture and globalization – all played a major role in climate change. This view of life, which advocated the pursuit of money and materialism at the expense of environment, are the major causes for the pollution of air, water and land. People are concerned about their comfort and well being at any cost even if it negatively affects the environment and society they lived in.
At the 2012 EcoQ conference in Qatar, Jean Audouze, President of France UNESCO said that at the beginning of 19th century, the planet had only one billion human inhabitants, and by 2050 there will be nine billion.
“If every human being wished to live with the standards of American people, we would need seven Earths to support this amount of people. If every human being wanted to live in the same standards of a European, we would need three Earths to support all those people,” – Jean Audouze, UNESCO
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The third world countries further emulated this capitalist mentality, which was earlier confined to the Western countries, as a role model for economic development. However, it has by and large resulted in further aggravation in the environmental pollution. According to John Reilly, co-director of MIT’s Joint Programme on the Science and Policy of Global Change, “broader economic improvements in poor countries has been bringing living improvements to people. Doing it with increasing reliance on coal is imperilling the world.”
Thirdly, the imperialistic foreign policies and the resulting wars for maintaining their hegemony and dominance caused irreparable damage to the environment. The two world wars and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had a wide consequence to humanity and greatly affected the environments for generations. Further, the cold war between Communists and Capitalist countries and the arms race for nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction further complicated the state of affairs.
The Chernobyl incident, Fukushima nuclear accidents and the vast dump of nuclear waste which are being dumped in the oceans have seriously affected the environment and still affect societies. After the cold war and proclamation of the New World Order, the Western powers turned their attention to the Middle East.
During the war for liberation of Kuwait, invasion of Iraq and war in Afghanistan, the world’s dominant military powers have not only destroyed the basic infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan, but have further aggravated the environmental situation by using depleted uranium and chemical and biological weapons. An attack by Israel of Iran’s nuclear facilities, which, if happens, will be catastrophic to the Middle East region and the world.
Taking into consideration the above factors, we have to conclude that the Western civilization and their capitalistic ideology have played a major role in climate change and global warming.
The greatest contradiction we are facing is that the same people who created this problem of global warming and climatic change are trying to find solution to the problem they created and the sad fact is that they are using the same mentality and the same tools, which deteriorated the environment.
For 21st century progress, the most important requirement is the change in our mentality.
Ironically, many environmental organizations who are campaigning for bio fuel, wind energy and so on, are part of the same western capitalist system who has helped to create this problem. It seems they are trying to find a solution without surrendering the extravagant consumer culture – that is, without any of changing our thinking and behaviour.
This can be likened to the virus of a disease finding a solution to its own disease. A difficult analogy to accept but a truth nonetheless. But we are not ready to sacrifice this lifestyle and to change our mentality. We cannot blame others since the basis of our ambitions and thinking is the drive for money and comfort.
“The earth has been created for me as a mosque and as a means of purification.” Prophet Muhammad’s Hadith (Al-Bukhari I:331)
Instead of taking steps to mitigate climate change, the major concerns of the world powers are whether the measures will negatively affect their economic growth. They want the guarantee that they can maintain the carbon induced economic growth without further deteriorating the environment. Hence it is evident that the western drive to fight Global warming is full of contradiction and confusions.
The Situation in OIC Countries
Currently 57 countries are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), covering a major breadth of our planet. Hence, it is essential that these countries take immediate actions to safeguard and sustain its environment and eco-system. From Guyana all the way to Indonesia, these Islamic countries are blessed with beautiful and varied landscapes and vast biodiversity.
According to the report of Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC) dated March 2010 (titled “Climate Change: Impacts on Agriculture in OIC Member Countries”) states that OIC countries are highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change mainly due to its negative impacts on their agricultural production and it suggests that there is a need to put the agriculture sector back at the top of national agendas of these countries. The most vulnerable are the member countries of Sub-Saharan Africa as their economies are based mainly on agriculture sector.
The report on Agriculture productivity states that 41 % of the total population of the OIC countries is agricultural population that directly or indirectly depends for their livelihood on agriculture. If OIC member countries cannot achieve sustainable growth of the agricultural production, they will be increasingly dependent on world markets to meet their needs and will be more vulnerable to price fluctuations and the achievement of food security will become a difficult goal to attain. These reasons urge the need for higher agricultural productivity levels. Another report of SESRIC on global food price crises states that the number of undernourished people in the OIC member states has increased from 179.1 million in 1990-1992 to 267 million in 2008 before decreasing to 229 million in 2010.
The winds of revolutionary protests and change that has swept the Arab world through Arab Spring, which started from Tunisia and passed through Egypt, Libya and other countries has brought down many despotic regimes and has created new hope of change and democratic reforms in this region. Most of these protests were ignited by rising food prices and unemployment. With the fall of the old regimes, young and dynamic leaders are in the process of coming up through democratic elections in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other countries. But the major problem the new leaders will face is the economic woes due to rising food prices, unemployment, hunger and poverty. So if they continue to pursue the economic methods of the previous regimes, the chance of success is bleak.
While political and social changes are taking place worldwide, the global economy as whole is growing from bad to worse. According to a recent report of the ILO titled ‘World of Work Report 2011’, the global economy is on the verge of a new and deeper jobs recession that may further delay the global economic recovery and may ignite social unrest. In order to create jobs, the governments will have to increase spending on projects, boost industries and reduce interest rates to boost market demand. These measures will consecutively result in increasing the green gas and carbon emissions in our atmosphere that will negatively affect our environment. Hence we are trapped in a situation in which we have to choose between the economy or environment. This is where the relevance of a second global green revolution is required.
The first green revolution started from the 1940s, led by Norman Borlaug, and saw the research and development of new disease resistant high-yields of cereal grains with mechanized agricultural technologies. Governments invested heavily in agricultural research and modern science was put to use in producing more food. However, this green revolution had negative effects like widespread use of pesticides that inadvertently caused severe environmental degradation and vast use of irrigation system that resulted in strain on water resources. But this revolution saved over a billion people from starvation and countries such as India were rescued from the brink of mass famine. It also prevented malnutrition and hunger throughout the world despite the huge growth in population.
“To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth, for Allah encompasses everything.” (4:126)
The second green revolution must aim for total social changes with the following aims:
- Develop a sustainable agricultural system that preserve our eco system and biodiversity.
- Ensure sustainable and eco-friendly economic growth that will simultaneously create jobs, equitable distribution of wealth, reduce carbon emission, preserve the environment and ensure the lives of the future generation.
- Create social and intellectual awareness in promoting a balanced, holistic and sustainable lifestyle that is in tune with nature as opposed to extravagant and consumer lifestyle that exploits the environment.
- Since this crisis affects all the countries and regions on this planet and humanity as a whole is facing existential crises, this revolution will provide a rare opportunity for people from all faiths, ideologies, races and nations to unite to counter the threat of global warming and climate change.
To conclude, the world is waiting for an International Islamic Green Movement. As Muslims we are capable as much as anyone else. We have a history of ecological action and ideas, which with the grace of Almighty Allah, will guide the humanity as whole to an Islamic way of life that is simple, holistic and balanced way of life. We have talked for years about having the solutions to our climatic problems, now is the time to show Europe and the world that we can put them into action.
Abdul Basit, based in Qatar
Article taken from The Eco Muslim. Read from it’s original site here.