Greening of the Global Ummah: Contextualising Climate Change

by Helmy Sa'at

Hotter. Wetter. Costlier. And, uglier.

That is what we can expect from global warming. The science on climate change does not lie. It is not ‘fake news’ or ‘alternative facts’.

Since 2016 up till last year, we have experienced the hottest five-year period since 1850. We are warned to expect a higher frequency of extreme weather events compared to previous years. The sea level is projected to rise between two and three metres above current levels. Are you still not convinced?

Climate change is also a humanitarian issue whereby rising temperatures and extreme weather events continue to exacerbate poverty, hunger, displacement, armed conflicts and more. Globally, the most vulnerable people and communities are set to bear the brunt while the super rich continue to channel their money for space explorations with the possibility of relocating to another planet, in the not so distant future.

The (Ugly) Truth, Literally Hurts

The brutal truth is it affects everyone; however, not absolutely equal.

Global warming is projected to contribute to more than 200 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, every year with more being forced to flee for their lives and become climate refugees. In Somalia alone, for instance, a country plagued by conflicts, the number of internally displaced people, further exacerbated by climate change, has reached 2.9 million people!

This is no longer a hyperbolic narrative which invites histrionic responses from either end of the spectrum. We need to act. Now, and fast.

What do we do? Do we continue to be desensitised from such news? Going green is not just a cozy tagline to tackle climate change; what more can we, the global ummah, do to help deal with global warming?

Humanity’s Latest Pledge

Many of us would have heard of the recent meeting of world leaders under the banner of Cop26 (Conference for the Parties), which occurred from 31 October to 12 November 2021. An annual global summit of the 196 nations which form part of the United Nations climate treaty working to avoid climate catastrophe. But, how many of us could actually declare honestly our belief that change would be implemented and the planet is on the course to be saved?

In fact, how many of us actually rolled our eyes not out of lack of belief in global warming, but rather due to lack of faith in the seriousness and sincerity of our world leaders to really solve issues of global warming? Especially, when such latest iterations seem to continue to ring hollow even after all these years of devastation. Do we sit on our hands while our faith in collective effort is continually diminished, and stop paying attention?

Mental Shift: Our Environmental Duty, Period!

We do not tumble into an abyss of despair albeit we are frustrated with what is beyond our control. Instead, we are still in control of our immediate actions in our current environment.

إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ فِى سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ ٱسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى ٱلْعَرْشِ يُغْشِى ٱلَّيْلَ ٱلنَّهَارَ يَطْلُبُهُۥ حَثِيثًا وَٱلشَّمْس وَٱلْقَمَرَ وَٱلنُّجُومَ مُسَخَّرَٰتٍۭ بِأَمْرِهِۦٓ ۗ أَلَا لَهُ ٱلْخَلْقُ وَٱلْأَمْرُ ۗ تَبَارَكَ ٱللَّهُ رَبُّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ

Surely, your Lord is Allah who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then He positioned himself on the Throne. He covers the day with the night that pursues it swiftly. (He created) the sun and the moon and the stars, subjugated to His command. Lo! To Him alone belong the creation and the command. Glorious is Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. 

[Surah Al-A’raf 7:54]

It is this simple: You and I are responsible for the Earth; as trustees and guardians of the planet, we are duty bound to care for it.

Start Small, And Keep At it

Take the time to appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature. Reflect on those moments. This helps to buttress your sense of gratitude for the many blessings bestowed upon us amid the chaos.

Never underestimate small steps. One immediate area we can look into and take the necessary steps to remedy is food waste. Practise mindfulness and be thoughtful in our approach. Food production alone is responsible for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately one quarter of food is disposed of for a multitude of reasons, such as spillage. But, we tend to be complacent and forget that food production comes at an environmental cost — utilising land, water and energy.

Thus, in totality food wastage contributes to approximately 6% of total greenhouse gas emissions. To place it in a sobering context, this amount is around three times the global emissions from aviation, or simply being the world’s third largest emitter.

Just take a moment and digest these figures. More importantly, it shows that we are not only directly responsible for global warming on a daily basis through such simple acts as food consumption and wastage, but we are also able to turn the table if we put our hearts and minds into it.

The list to being an environmentally conscious Muslim is infinite. Google it and you would not be disappointed, or limited to your current resources. This is where cultivating awareness and educating ourselves and those around us is key to an even stronger collective effort impacting the Earth.

In addition to prayers, we, the global ummah, need to take concrete steps to help alleviate the dire situation. There is no time left to postpone or procrastinate.

Share this article with your family and friends. And, do not forget to share in the Comments section below, what you have been doing, or planning to embark on to help tackle and minimise the consequences of climate change.