Various religious organisations around the world are supporting the science behind world-ending climate change, writes Bilal Cleland.
THE FACT THAT climate warming is occurring is no longer a matter of conjecture.
Australia got its wake-up call with a sustained drought followed by apocalyptic bushfires in late 2019 and early 2020, wiping out billions of native animals.
This northern hemisphere summer has witnessed the highest temperatures ever recorded in temperate British Columbia where 500 people have died from the heat. Over 200 died in the states of Oregon and Washington.
Changing climate has also brought increased lightning strikes, the cause of bushfires.
ABC News reported:
‘More than 710,000 lightning strikes were recorded in British Columbia and western Alberta between 3:00 PM on Wednesday and 6:00 A.M. on Thursday.
This is up from an average of 8,300 from the same period over the past five years...’
Scientists have also been shocked by the speed of melting of the “Last Ice Area”, a 1 million square kilometre area of floating sea ice north of Greenland, which was expected to withstand global warming for decades.
The need for zero emissions
The Climate Council of Australia stated last year:
‘...it is vital that we replace all fossil fuels use, meet all of our energy needs with renewables... and repair past harm to the atmosphere.’
The leading nations, the G7, are waking up to the danger.
A statement created by the Science Academies of the G7 nations lays it out:
Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced at a faster pace if we are to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
The G7 Countries must implement deployment of disruptive low carbon technologies in infrastructure development, in industrial production and must influence and incentivise personal lifestyle choices to reach the deployment goals.
The Islamic position from 2015
The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, launched in Istanbul 17-18 August 2015, began with a clear call:
‘Our species, though selected to be a caretaker or steward (khalifah) on the Earth, has been the cause of such corruption and devastation on it that we are in danger of ending life as we know it on our planet.’
“Corruption upon the Earth” is how it regards uncontrolled exploitation of fossil fuels, increasing rates of deforestation, desertification, pollution of the atmosphere, land, inland water systems, and seas and the increased threat of disease.
The Qur'an states:
‘Corruption has appeared on land and sea
Because of what people’s own hands have wrought,
So that they may taste something of what they have done;
So that hopefully they will turn back.’
It concludes with the words of the Prophet:
‘The world is sweet and verdant, and verily Allah has made you stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.’
Christians and climate change
‘We have come to see ourselves as her [Mother Earth] lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.
This is why the Earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22).’
“For humans... to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the Earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the Earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the Earth’s waters, its land, its air and its life — these are sins.”
However, the Pew Research Centre reported of U.S. adults in 2015 that political party identification and race and ethnicity were stronger predictors of views about climate change than religious identity or observance.
Hispanic Catholics were most likely to say warming was due to human activity and White evangelical Protestants the least likely.
Australian leaders divided
Australia ranked last of nearly 200 countries for action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
The ruling Liberal-National Coalition is divided over zero emissions.
As reported in The Sydney Morning Herald:
‘Mr Joyce warned in February against a target of net-zero by 2050 and joined Senator Canavan in signalling he was willing to cross the floor on the issue.’
Such views may well be out of touch with Australian opinion.
The Australia Talks survey of about 60,000, showed an increase in the amount of money Australians would be personally willing to spend each year to tackle the problem of climate change:
‘Increases were recorded across age and income brackets, across genders and anywhere from the inner cities to rural areas. The only demographic which did not record an increase was One Nation voters. Liberal and National Party voters recorded an increase of 11 percentage points, and now one in five of them would spend over $500 a year.’
Denial of climate warming goes along with fossil fuel lobbying and science denial, usually accompanied by xenophobia.
It will be very costly for all of us if such views prevail.
Bilal Cleland is a retired secondary teacher and was Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Board Victoria and Secretary of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. You can follow Bilal on Twitter @BilalCleland.
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