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Faith groups have responsibility to protect planet by Saiyid Masroor Shah

Faith groups have responsibility to protect planet by Saiyid Masroor Shah

 

(Printed in Evansville Courier and Press)  Feb 6, 2016

Saiyid Masroor Shah is a member of the Tri-State Islamic Center)

The Quran says “He (Almighty God) is the one who made you the guardians in the earth,”translation 35:30. Similarly, all religions, in their own ways, believe and profess that human beings have been ordained as the caretakers of earth by almighty God, implying that it is our responsibility to protect our natural resources and the environment on the planet earth.

It is universally admitted that due to wide consumption practices the nonrenewable resources, including fossil fuel derived energy, water and productive land are dwindling fast. Ecological foot print estimates show that it now takes one year and six months to generate nonrenewable sources that we use in a year.

All people suffer from environmental degradation in one or other way, and as such it is our duty to stop or at least slow down this degradation. It is the responsibility of the faith communities, collectively and individually, to protect, conserve and preserve the resources on earth.

The outcome of environmental concerns has culminated in the Paris climate agreement, an unprecedented occurrence in the recent history. Almost 200 countries recognized the severity of the issue and agreed to a path of action. All of them — including superpowers, countries economically dependent on fossil fuel and vulnerable low lying island nations — agreed to a globally coordinated action plan on climate change. This is not an ideal agreement, but with conflicting interests and complexity of issues such an agreement is in itself a big achievement

While all these nations have committed to do their part to save the environment, we the members of the faith groups and as individuals also have an obligation to play an active and constructive role even with our limited resources.

To begin with, let us adopt simple practices that conserve and protect the environment. Let us adopt the simple 3 Rs (reduce, recycle, reuse) principle in our individual and collective activities for the use of water, consumption of food and energy utilization. It is not difficult to adopt recycling programs for plastic, aluminum and other recycling items at each congregation (unless you already have one). Conservation of water and energy will not only help the environment but will also save money. Utilization of solar energy at places of worship is an option to be seriously considered. Even let us adopt a fourth R (rethink) principle for all our purchases as to the necessity and potential negative impact on the environment.

But waste not by excess (Quran 6: end of 141- translation)

An average American is not expected to feel an immediate effect from the implementation of the Paris agreement. Though, in the near future they may find more energy efficient electrical products, vehicles and homes. In the long run it could create opportunities and jobs in the construction of a new energy infrastructure and development of a new transportation system independent of fossil fuel. However, unfortunately some people, especially in our region, will feel the negative economic impact of this agreement. We have to work together to retool and prepare those who may be affected for new types of jobs. We need to impress upon the policymakers at the local, state and national level to provide the alternative economic means to the affected.

Foremost, education and job training programs must be available in the new and emerging technologies. Local universities, Ivy Tech and high school systems should be ready to prepare the students for the upcoming jobs that will be created by new technologies. It is critical for the local and state level leadership to secure necessary funding for the new things on the horizon.

As the members of faith groups, it is our duty to work for practical solutions to help those who may be affected. It is also our responsibility to adopt environmentally friendly practices. Let us join hands together and almighty God will be our helper.

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