When we harm nature, we harm ourselves. I believe that human activity heavily contributes to climate change. Climate scientists have proven that the burning of fossil fuels, factory farming and destruction of forests are the main causes of climate change. UN recently warned, “The future is happening now,” and called for more urgent measures to be taken to cut global carbon emissions. Recently, Dr James Hansen, a former NASA scientist and longtime whistleblower about the impending dangers of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), published a paper with several colleagues showing that ACD will push sea level rise into exponential levels by the end of this century. The paper shows how the melting is actually compounding itself generating dramatically fast increases in both melting and sea level rise. Sea level rise is happening faster than it has for the last 27 centuries. In the Arctic, sea ice has reached a new wintertime low record, and its effect on different species is significant. A recent study in the International Journal of Primatology found that every primate species on the planet would be negatively impacted by both increasing temperatures and the varying rainfall levels associated with ACD. Greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane are believed to lead to global warming. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), used in refrigeration, destroy the ozone layer that shields the earth from UV rays.
Last year’s global temperatures crushed the century’s record by the greatest margin in various parts of the world including Pakistan. States, scientists, environmental specialists and faith leaders all are concerned about this global issue. President Barack Obama urged young leaders in Vietnam to focus on the threat of climate change during his recent trip. In Pakistan, the ministry of climate change has announced the launch of a large-scale awareness campaign to make public aware of climate change and its effects on the environment in Pakistan. Government is already actively working to raise awareness regarding this critical issue. Energy and solar systems are a part of it. Moreover, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s government started a programme to protect forests, an appreciable development.
Any change to the planet affects all those who live on it. Global warming doesn’t mean that only a part of the planet gets warmer. It means that the globe taken as a whole is warming. Ocean waters around the globe continue to warm alongside the atmosphere. But it was shocking news for the world in May 2016 that Australia Great Barrier Reef is in the midst of its worst catastrophe in recorded history, and the Australian government is trying to hide the truth from the world. The 1,400-mile-long reef is the single largest living ecosystem on the planet, and is now in danger of being lost. Government was trying to censor reports highlighting the risks it poses to tourism, as the environment department expressed concerns it could cause confusion and negatively affect tourism. Indeed, it shows that Australian government is more concerned about tourism than the reef. In fact, Australia is not to blame for the demise of reef system, but UN climate change report shows Australia is not serious about handling this global issue.
The Paris Summit on global warming is a start but the seriousness of global warming has to be realised. In April, 2016, leaders of 150-plus nations gathered in New York to ratify the global climate pact agreed in Paris in late 2015 to limit global warming to 1.5-2 degrees compared with pre-industrial times. Until now, the common goal has been to keep warming to less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels, but scientific models show 1.5 degree is almost impossible.
Different areas around the world may experience certain changes in their climates with quite different impacts on their plants, animals and people, and this is ominous. Apparently, mild changes that are ignorable can later have a big impact. Heat waves, droughts, earthquakes and floods in Pakistan contribute much for low economy. Human health, agriculture, food and water supplies and energy resources all are affected due to natural disasters. Unluckily, Pakistan is much affected due to climate change because of its lack of resources and financial capacity. Pakistan’s water resources that are based on snow, glacier-melt and monsoon rains are under threat due to serious implications of climate change.
Moreover, activities by India add fire to fuel as it releases more water into Pakistani rivers when floods play havoc in different areas affecting millions of people. Need is to bear responsibility equally and efficiently, although developing and under-developed countries don’t have power and resources as compared to developed states to bring collective change globally. Asia or Australia, Canada or Greenland, Washington or Karachi, are all facing high risk due to climate change. The Islamic Relief Worldwide presented the Islamic Climate Change Declaration to the president of the United Nations General Assembly in April 2016, and established the official launch of the Global Muslim Climate Network. After the Paris Summit there is need to implement policies, and steps are to be taken with a positive change in behaviours about climate change.
Nuclear technology and weapons, pesticides, large landfills and waste from food processing industries deplete our soil of its nutrients and make it lifeless. Pollution, a product of economic progress, also affects the environment negatively. Global warming may not be a direct result of man’s abuse of nature but man’s self-centred desires for power, modernism and greed are surely responsible for this threat. I place the life on this planet in two categories. One is natural and the other is modern. First leads to simplicity, divinity and existence, and second to destruction and chaos. In fact, nature teaches human beings about God; nature speaks of God. The earth itself is a divine world. When we observe nature deeply, we realise that every day is earth day. The sacred reality of nature is affirmed throughout the Holy Quran. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, author, an Islamic philosopher, and a professor at the George Washington University, said that the environmental crisis is “both a proof of God’s transcendence and a proof of the interconnectedness of all beings.”
The writer is an author and a columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Twitter @aishaz99