Khamis, 20 Mei 2010

ISLAM LOOKS AT GLOBAL WARMING



From Mathaba News Network

Britain's Muslim community illustrated its concern about global warming during a recent march calling for mass action over climate change.

The London March, part of a global protest which took place in 32 countries on November 3rd was addressed by Fazlun Khalid, the Founder Director, of the Birmingham-based Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences.

He told protesters that global warming is one of the many symptoms of the suicidal assault mounted by the human species on the natural world. Deforestation and its after effects are another. By denuding the forests of trees we destroy the very resource that absorb the carbon dioxide that we spew into the atmosphere by the mega ton. Another consequence is that every single one of us gathered here have more than 200 poisons in our bodies that our grand parents did not have. This is the result of our unmitigated global pursuit of prosperity, which only a tiny minority has achieved whilst others strive vainly to catch up. This is called the rat race.

The rat race is based on creating discontent. We are seduced into falling in debt and competing with each other in the ownership of the latest gadgetry; advertising used as a tool of manipulation constantly making people feel inadequate. Our global civilization looks very artificial, resting on industrial and financial systems in singular pursuit of profit. The very human ecology is collapsing. Tradition and the wisdom of the ages spurned, replaced by an iconic modernity based on the slavehood of man to machine.

The problem is systemic – the process has been to colonize, monetize and then globalize. It is economics based on virtual capital that acts as a virus on the natural capital of planet earth. The sales of just 200 multi national corporations represent about 30 percent of the world’s GDP and they employ less than 1 percent of the world’s workforce. We are asked to think global and act local. But what do you do with people who act global and sod the local? This is the new imperialism of banks and global business. This week Kyoto; next week WTO.

We are now devouring the earth that continues to nurture us, with unmitigated ferocity. In our eager push for universal prosperity we have lost sight of the finite and delicate nature of planet Earth and our place in it. In spite of their excesses past civilizations were biodegradable. When old civilizations, however opulent, profligate, greedy, or brutal died, the forests just grew over them and the sands covered their traces. They left no pollutants, damaging poisons or nuclear waste. By contrast, and assuming we survive as a species, archaeologists excavating our present rampant civilization in the future are going to need radiation suits. Now the nuclear power option is being actively considered. The issues are understood but there is an unrealistic and selfish insistence on maintaining current life styles. Future generations are not on our screens even if damaging nuclear radiation lasts for thousands of years. We live it up today in the hope that tomorrow never comes. Will Muslim countries give up their nuclear options not only for the sake of their own future generations but also for the common good? They have a chance to give leadership but they are locked into playing this disastrous game called progress.

It has been said that the human species has existed on this planet for about 800 lifetimes. This is a mili second of a mili second in terms of the age of planet earth. Of this 650 lifetimes were spent in caves. Only in the last three has anyone used an electric motor anywhere and coal for steam propulsion in the last four. The vast majority of all the material goods we use in daily life today have been developed within the present, 800th lifetime. In terms of the historical epoch of the human species the events that created our present global predicaments had occurred in the twinkling of an eye. This may sound wonderful to some but the price we have to pay is heavy. That’s why we are here.

The system in reality is a plutocracy and democracy merely its veil. The much vaunted liberalism and freedoms that democracy espouses are achieved by keeping the population comatosed by consumerism and a contrived prosperity that is bringing us to the edge of ecological disaster. No thought of where it is all coming from, of the finiteness of planet earth, of the increasingly heavy ecological footprints we leave behind. We ourselves are the collective victims of this self-inflicted plunder.

Sustainable Development is now the vogue. Everyone wants it but no one practices it. China has double figure growth followed closely by India. As the universal aspiration is to become “developed economies” this cannot be stopped and neither will climate chaos. As the Economist observed, “the sheer magnitude of economic growth that is hoped for in the coming decades makes it seem inevitable that clashes between mankind and nature will grow worse”.

It must have occurred to somebody that traditional communities did at one time live sustainably and in harmony with their surroundings before modernity intervened to change their lives. But, they are not now allowed to be themselves.

If we didn’t know it already, we know now that absolute power corrupts absolutely. In this power nexus ethical constraints fall apart and limits disappear. In more innocent times we looked up to the US of A for leadership but this was an illusion. However there is no blame on the American people themselves and the Bush administration is now irrelevant to this debate. It is hoped that state law in the US will intervene in the absence of Kyoto. In the medium term we can look forward to regime change but this is four years away – a longish time in terms of the climate chaos scenario.

We are also saddened by the stance taken by OPEC. Their slowing down of the Kyoto processes is disturbing. We ask them to look beyond narrow national interests and take this opportunity to be the champions of the poor. It may not have occurred to them that drop in oil use is a conservation measure which could benefit their own future generations.

Given the mounting irrefutable data we are led to the obvious conclusion that if we do not begin to act with the required alacrity now we will be leaving succeeding generations in dire straits. Nations that pollute most have the greatest responsibility – we thus ask the USA and Australia to live up to them.

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