My twin passions — climate change and Gaza — are puzzling to some of my friends. “What’s the connection?”
Justice and Life – pure and simple.
The occupation of Palestine, and the destruction of our planet, are each the result of human avarice and a destructive sense of superiority over others.
Humans think we have things under control on this fragile planet. We treat all life-forms as garbage, but with a little tinkering here or there, we believe we can restore the necessary balance to maintain our dominance. Wrong! It requires a whole new radical rethinking about our rightful place among all life-forms on this planet.
Zionists think they have the Occupation of Palestine under control. With a little Hasbara and military support from its best friend, the USA, Zionists have a destructive sense of security believing they can maintain their State of Israel as a home for Jews only, while treating Palestinians as garbage. Wrong! It requires a whole new radical rethinking about each other’s humanity and their rightful place living as neighbors.
The planet and the Palestinians are not garbage!
I’m mourning these injustices, and I’m mourning the willful blindness that plagues so many (the majority?) of Americans.
We can all do better. I know it. I can see it in my “mind’s eye” but it’s difficult to have hope as the COP21 comes to a close in Paris this week and as Israel’s security forces have killed 10 Palestinians in the West Bank so far THIS MONTH.
Pope Francis released his Encyclical on the Environment and Human Ecology earlier this year.
In August, Muslims issued the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change. The full text is here. I’m not surprised that religious leaders from these two great faith traditions agree: (1) climate change is real, (2) catastrophic climate change is human-caused, (3) human greed and over-consumption are big factors, and (4) God/Allah will not save us from our folly. He/she expects us to wake-up and restore the balance in the creation God/Allah gave us.
Some excerpts from the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change follow:
The pace of Global climate change today is of a different order of magnitude from the gradual changes that previously occurred throughout the most recent era, the Cenozoic. Moreover, it is human-induced: we have now become a force dominating nature. The epoch in which we live has increasingly been described in geological terms as the Anthropocene, or “Age of Humans”. 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 ending life as we know it on our planet.
An urgent and radical reappraisal is called for. Humankind cannot afford the slow progress we have seen in all the COP (Conference of Parties – climate change negotiations) processes since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was published in 2005, or the present deadlock.
We affirm that –
God created the Earth in perfect equilibrium (mīzān);
By His immense mercy we have been given fertile land, fresh air, clean water and all the good things on Earth that makes our lives here viable and delightful;
The Earth functions in natural seasonal rhythms and cycles: a climate in which living beings – including humans – thrive;
The present climate change catastrophe is a result of the human disruption of this balance –
وَالسَّمَاء رَفَعَهَا وَوَضَعَ الْمِيزَانَ
أَلاَّ تَطْغَوْا فِي الْمِيزَانِ
وَأَقِيمُوا الْوَزْنَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلا تُخْسِرُوا الْمِيزَانَ
وَالأَرْضَ وَضَعَهَا لِلْأَنَامِ
2.5 We recognize the corruption (fasād) that humans have caused on the Earth due to our relentless pursuit of economic growth and consumption. Its consequences have been –
Global climate change, which is our present concern, in addition to:
Contamination and befoulment of the atmosphere, land, inland water systems, and seas;
Soil erosion, deforestation and desertification;
Damage to human health, including a host of modern-day diseases.
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
3.1 We call upon the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Kyoto Protocol taking place in Paris this December, 2015 to bring their discussions to an equitable and binding conclusion, bearing in mind –
The scientific consensus on climate change, which is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate systems;
The need to set clear targets and monitoring systems;
The dire consequences to planet earth if we do not do so;
The enormous responsibility the COP shoulders on behalf of the rest of humanity, including leading the rest of us to a new way of relating to God’s Earth.
3.2 We particularly call on the well-off nations and oil-producing states to
Lead the way in phasing out their greenhouse gas emissions as early as possible and no later than the middle of the century;
Provide generous financial and technical support to the less well-off to achieve a phase-out of greenhouse gases as early as possible;
Recognize the moral obligation to reduce consumption so that the poor may benefit from what is left of the earth’s non-renewable resources;
Stay within the ‘2 degree’ limit, or, preferably, within the ‘1.5 degree’ limit, bearing in mind that two-thirds of the earth’s proven fossil fuel reserves remain in the ground;
Re-focus their concerns from unethical profit from the environment, to that of preserving it and elevating the condition of the world’s poor.
Invest in the creation of a green economy.
3.3 We call on the people of all nations and their leaders to –
Aim to phase out greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible in order to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere;
Commit themselves to 100 % renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible, to mitigate the environmental impact of their activities;
Invest in decentralized renewable energy, which is the best way to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development;
Realize that to chase after unlimited economic growth in a planet that is finite and already overloaded is not viable. Growth must be pursued wisely and in moderation; placing a priority on increasing the resilience of all, and especially the most vulnerable, to the climate change impacts already underway and expected to continue for many years to come.
Set in motion a fresh model of wellbeing, based on an alternative to the current financial model which depletes resources, degrades the environment, and deepens inequality.
Prioritise adaptation efforts with appropriate support to the vulnerable countries with the least capacity to adapt. And to vulnerable groups, including indigenous peoples, women and children.
3.4 We call upon corporations, finance, and the business sector to –
Shoulder the consequences of their profit-making activities, and take a visibly more active role in reducing their carbon footprint and other forms of impact upon the natural environment;
In order to mitigate the environmental impact of their activities, commit themselves to 100 % renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible and shift investments into renewable energy;
Change from the current business model which is based on an unsustainable escalating economy, and to adopt a circular economy that is wholly sustainable;
Pay more heed to social and ecological responsibilities, particularly to the extent that they extract and utilize scarce resources;
Assist in the divestment from the fossil fuel driven economy and the scaling up of renewable energy and other ecological alternatives.
3.5 We call on all groups to join us in collaboration, co-operation and friendly competition in this endeavour and we welcome the significant contributions taken by other faiths, as we can all be winners in this race
وَلَكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُم فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ
He (God) wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So compete with each other in doing good deeds.
Qur’an 5: 48
If we each offer the best of our respective traditions, we may yet see a way through our difficulties.
3.6 Finally, we call on all Muslims wherever they may be –
Heads of state
Religious leaders and scholars
Islamic endowments (awqaf)
Educators and educational institutions
Civil society activists
Communications and media
وَلاَ تَمْشِ فِي الأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّكَ لَن تَخْرِقَ الأَرْضَ وَلَن تَبْلُغَ الْجِبَالَ طُولاً
Do not strut arrogantly on the earth.
You will never split the earth apart
nor will you ever rival the mountains’ stature.
Qur’an 17: 37
We bear in mind the words of our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him):
The world is sweet and verdant, and verily Allah has made you stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves
Hadīth related by Muslim from Abu Sa‘īd Al-Khudrī)
Some friends and colleagues are totally engaged in climate change, but reject any criticism of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. While other “activists” are thoroughly absorbed with Palestine, believing “others will solve climate change.” We must help each other recognize that our souls cannot be divided. Life and justice requires our attention and action on both.