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News Right Now: The Environmental Crisis
Assalamu Alaikum and welcome to News Right Now: ‘The Environmental Crisis’...
The continued growth in energy use has had serious consequences for the world. Extracting mineral wealth from the earth is a toxic process and this growth over the last century has had devastating results. Corporations, backed by their governments, have destroyed forests, rivers and endangered numerous species. Thousands of independent climate scientists agree that our environment is in serious danger because we are using more of the Earth’s resources than we can renew.
Since 1970 global surface temperatures have risen faster than in any 50 year period over the last 2,000 years, and temperatures are now 1.07c warmer than they were between 1850-1900. In the late 1950’s CO2 emissions detected 417 parts per million (ppm) but pre industrial levels were only 278ppm, which shows that levels have doubled within only about 150 years.
Due to this it is estimated that we will overshoot the 2015 Paris agreement of curbing emissions to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2041-2060, and already there are terrifying predictions that the Middle East is warming at twice the global average; its predicted that by 2050 it’ll be 4 degrees Celsius warmer compared to the 1.5 degree mark!
These figures are reflected in the extreme heat and cold events around the world which are increasing in their regularity and intensity. The number of floods and heavy rains has quadrupled since 1980 and doubled since 2004, and countries like Bangladesh have already lost a vast landmass, and the same is predicted for parts of Europe. Also the devastating wildfires in Australia, California and Turkey show that climate change is leading to more frequent and more severe hot weather events. What was a once in 10 year occurrence now happens on average 4 times in the same period.
Melting ice sheets and glaciers, and warming oceans have led to higher sea levels, and since 1900, sea levels have risen faster than in any preceding century in at least the last 3,000 years. Also wildlife populations have dropped by 60% in just over 40 years, with one million species facing extinction! Including thousands of land animal and marine species, and the plummeting insect numbers literally threatening the collapse of nature.
The scale of the problem has grown to such a colossal level in the last decade that the devastation to entire ecosystems and natural habitats, as well as the ensuing refugee crises induced by climatic events, the level of waste produced in the global north which is dumped in the poorest nations to rot in open landfills, and the slave like labour intensive policies of globalisation have resulted in a multitude of human problems in our rapidly changing world.
However its vital we note here that the existence of these problems can be easily traced back to the behaviours and actions and policies and values of the western nations that predominantly serve to maintain the standard of living that many have become accustomed to and are fighting to preserve regardless of the consequences on poor countries and their populations - who do not enjoy the benefits of the excessively materialistic lifestyle whereby everything is possible and accessible at any given time!
In the last decade increasing calls for action to be taken to halt the devastation being wrought to the planet have intensified. So in 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created by the United Nations to assess the scientific knowledge on global warming.
Since then politicians, activists, scientists and political makers argue the facts about high fossil fuel usage, mass deforestation, high meat production, harmful agricultural policies, excessive human production and consumption, contamination of water supplies by various industries and factories, and large amounts of plastic, clothing and other waste products – they ignore that these are in reality symptoms of the problem rather than the root cause. And progress in tackling this issue will remain deficient as long as the diagnosis and treatment of the problem remains flawed.
The root cause of the environmental crisis is the materialistic and profit-obsessed Capitalist Ideology and its systems’ which dominate the politics, economics and social life of states today and which have created an unsustainable pattern of consumption and production within countries in the drive to secure revenue and economic gain over all other human needs and values, including the protection of the environment. The repeated abuse of the environment and the emergence of a host of environmental problems are merely the natural consequences of this system; and the crisis that we are witnessing is nothing other than the legacy of the Capitalist ideology.
The Islamic view of life is based on the absolute belief that man, life and the universe are created by Allah (swt). Islam does not view man’s relation to nature as one of conflict or contradiction. As the universe and life itself, just like man, are all Allah’s creations, Islam treats their relations as being mutually complementary. Also, Allah has put the universe in man’s service and He assigned man to cultivate the land. There are many Shariah texts which concern the environment. These texts give a unique picture of how Islam focuses on nature – and they illustrate that Allah has created nature and put it in service for man, and made man its guardian to enjoy and not ruin.
Muadh ibn Jabal (ra) narrated from the Prophet (saw): “Avoid the three actions that bring people’s curses: defecating in water sources, on roads, and in the shade.” (Abu Dawud and ibn Majah)
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Whoever cultivates barren land, it belongs to him.”(Abu Dawud)
These explicit texts, amongst many, provide direction and rules on protecting creation and not harming or wasting it. These texts amongst many are clear that the earth’s resources are a means for us to use and progress, there is no conflict here. But Islam provides a framework that balances man’s need for resources and taking care of the environment.
Most of the Shariah principles which are related to the environment to a great extent are the principles concerning harm that are derived from a series of narrations, including the Prophet’s words: “No harm and no harming” (Daraqutni). Examples of these principles are: “the essence of harm is prohibition”, “harm is removed” and “any permitted (mubah) element that is harmful or leads to harm, is prohibited, but the matter remains permissible”.
Dealing with the environment should therefore be done in a way that is not harmful or leads to harm. According to these principles, any relationship with nature which leads to something that the Shariah has prohibited will also be prohibited, even if there is no text with a specific prohibition. It is therefore forbidden according to the Shariah to pollute the environment so that it is harmful, or leads to harm, or leads to something forbidden during the process of manufacturing, economic development or exploitation of natural resources, such as contaminating the water, air and soil, with poison, disease and destruction of the soil, animal resources and fisheries. This is regardless of the cost there may be to avoid this, which means that the Shariah has ignored the discussion of economic losses related to countering environmental harm and combating pollution.
Practically the future Khilafah will look to the use of renewables which depends on climatic and geographical conditions. Wind is the most mature of all the renewable technologies, while biomass generation is the most stable. The most ideal situation is where every building is itself a power source. This could take place via the Khilafah adopting building standards whereby all new buildings must have a certain percentage of its energy needs met through micro-generation i.e. through solar and combined heat and power units. Pakistan and Bangladesh have huge hydropower potential, whilst Indonesia and Malaysia have large wind power potential, at the same time the Middle East has huge solar potential. All of this ensures fossil fuels do not dominate the energy mix, which causes so many issues to the environment.
The Muslim world possesses all the necessary ingredients to fulfil the Ummah’s energy needs, Allah (swt) has endowed the Muslim lands with many minerals that are more than sufficient for the Khilafah to launch an industrial revolution. The Khilafah would in fact from some perspectives be in a much better position on the eve of its development than many of the industrialised nations were. Germany, Japan and China all lacked the necessary resources, it was this challenge that led Germany and Japan to colonise resource-rich nations. The US and Britain lacked the necessary population for industrial development, this was overcome through enslaving the people of colonised nations. This Khilafah will not have face problems as the Ummah number over one billion and the Islamic lands possess more than enough mineral resources for an industrial revolution.
The Women’s Section in the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir are addressing the true causes of this environmental crisis as well as presenting the solutions that the ideology and system of Islam offers as an alternative to Capitalism. Offering detailed explanations of the Islamic principles, laws and the approach to protecting and preserving this planet, including the management of resources in a way which is in harmony with nature - while also ensuring economic progress and development for humankind.
Follow the campaign on #EnvironmentalCrisis and أزمة_البيئة#
(ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ)
“Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness].” [Ar-Rum: 41]
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