The Environment


2 The Review of Religions – March 2007 Fazal Ahmad – London EDITORIAL COMMENT In recent years, the rapid economic progress of China and India have added pressure for resources, and heightened con- cerns over the impact of increased use of fossil fuels on climate change. For many years, politicians in leading nations such as the US have often argued that fluctuations in climate are normal, and that there is no evidence that industrial growth has had an adverse effect. However, the mood seems to be changing. In January, US President Bush declared that the US needs to reduce its energy consumption. An Inter- governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) con-sisting of more than 2,000 of the world’s top scientists has concluded that world temper-atures are likely to rise by 3°C by 2100 (possibly even as much as 6.4°C), and that sea-levels are likely to rise by between 28-43cm. It also warned of increasingly intense storms. The report also highlights the growing certainty (greater than 90%) that this upward trend of disastrous weather has been directly contributed to through human activity and emissions into the atmosphere. Concerned governments are now drawing conclusions that this will ultimately result in political instability and will impact prosperity. Already, global supplies of natural oil and gas are leading to wars. Given the large percentage of mankind that lives on or near the coastline, rising sea levels will drive population and increase competition for land. Mankind has a responsibility to tread a ‘middle path’ in order to preserve the ecosystem. This is nothing new. When food stocks of types of fish were running low, quotas were placed on fishing to allow stocks to replenish naturally. Exactly the same is true of natural resources such as oil and gas where increasingly the focus is shifting to alternative energy sources. The debate is now growing in intensity and voices in Europe are urging prompt action: ‘It is now more urgent than ever that the international community gets down to serious negotiations on a comprehensive new world- wide agreement to stop global warming.’(Stavros Dimas, EU Environment Commissioner) 3 EDITORIAL COMMENT The Review of Religions – March 2007 Phenomenon and direction of trend Likelihood that trend occured since 1960 Likelihood of human contribution Likelihood of trends for 21st Century Warmer and fewer cold days and nights over most land areas Very likely Likely Virtually certain warmer and more frequent hot days and nights over most land areas Very likely Likely (nights) Virtually certain Warm spells/ heat waves. Frequency increases over most land areas Likely More likely than not Very likely Heavy precipitation events. Frequency increases over most areas Likely More likely than not Very likely Areas affected by droughts increases Likely in many regions since 1970s More likely than not Likely Intense tropical cyclone activity increases Likely in many regions since 1970 More likely than not Likely Increased incidence of extreme high sea levels (excludes tsunamis) Likely More likely than not Likely Recent Climate Trends IPCC WGI Fourth Assessment Report , ‘Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis’, February 2007 But if a concensus is ever reached, political action is likely to yield results the efforts of the individual cannot be under-estimated. Reducing waste, being more frugal with water and food, and not wasting energy will all have an effect if enough of us start taking action in our own homes and daily business. It is waste that is polluting the atmosphere, and waste that is filling huge holes in the ground, and we need to consider whether that is a fitting legacy for the generations to come. However, amid the gloom, we should also bear in mind that the same God that created man, also created the Earth and all of the resources that we use, and the same God can create new avenues for man to sustain his existence, just as the Qur’an explains: Allah is He Who created the heavens and the earth and caused water to come down from the clouds, and brought forth therewith fruits for your sustenance; and He has subjected to you the ships that they may sail through the sea by His command, and the rivers too has He subjected to you. And He has also subjected to you the sun and the moon, both performing their work constantly. And He has subjected to you the night as well as the day. And He gave you all that you wanted of Him; and if you try to count the favours of Allah, you will not be able to number them. Verily, man is very unjust, very ungrateful. (Ch.56: Vs.69-74) The heaven and the earth have plenty of resources to sustain us, but we must first adopt the right course. Let us pray that the damage that has already been done is not a climate change too far. by Fazal Ahmad 4 EDITORIAL COMMENT The Review of Religions – March 2007