Allah in His infinite mercy provided humans with brain and material assets to test us if we turn the earth into a replica of paradise or create a hell on earth.
It is God who created you and then has provided with sustenance;
And then will cause you to die; and then will bring you to life again. …. (Ar-Rum: 40)
Allah has made it very clear that it is the human act that results in the destruction on earth:
[Since they have become oblivious of God,] Corruption has appeared on land in the sea as an outcome of what men’s hand have wrought: and so He will let them taste [the evil of] some of their doings… (Ar-Rum: 41)
Allah clearly warned us about the disastrous consequences of disturbing the ecological balances that has sustained the human life on this planet.
Modifying or upsetting the natural balance for any justifiable or askew purpose has profound impact. Any factor that upsets the balance of nature results in ecological imbalance. There are several interacting factors that are contributing to this disastrous climate change.
On the top is the interaction between inorganic and organic factors. Interaction between living and nonliving. Among the living beings are producers (plants), decomposers (bacteria, etc.) and consumers (humans, etc). Then there are food chains and food webs that constitute a relationship among the living beings. When they die, they are decomposed into nonliving matter. In the entire gamut of things created by Allah humans alone are capable of manipulating the environment by certain activities of which they are capable.
Man’s greed and propensity for sexual life lead to depletion of natural resources and these two instincts are the most potent factors for ecological imbalance.
Let us consider only two essential factors in modern day living that contribute most to the looming ecological disaster: Housing and Auto.
Building a modern house requires basic building materials available only after processing nature’s products over millions of years: trees, rocks, minerals, etc. Keeping it comfortable requires electricity, heating and cooling gadgets. There must be a good drainage and sewer system to take care of the refuse and garbage.
A comfortable house also means it is inhabited by someone who not only needs food and water to sustain, but the means of communication to the place of his work or business. Walking miles and miles is out of question and is considered wastage of time. Life in the fast lane requires utilising every second to earn the maximum possible.
So we have sprawling housing complexes and distant driving.
For years, most of the serious work on climate change has occurred in the developed and developing countries.
How ineffective are the much hyped solutions the humans are trying to stop the ecological disaster is evident from recently enacted laws in parts of the industrial world.
Let us take the example of California’s originality of a new law — the nation’s first — intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by curbing urban sprawl and cutting back the time people have to spend in their automobiles.
Passenger vehicles are the biggest single source of carbon dioxide in California, producing nearly one-third of the total. Meanwhile, the number of miles driven in California has increased 50 per cent faster than the rate of population growth, largely because people have to drive greater distances in their daily lives.
The new law has many moving parts, but the basic sequence is straightforward. The state’s Air Resources Board will determine the level of emissions produced by cars and light trucks in each of California’s 17 metropolitan planning areas. Emissions-reduction goals for 2020 and 2035 would be assigned to each area. Local governments would then devise strategies for housing development, road-building and other land uses to shorten travel distances, reduce driving and meet the new targets.
One obvious solution would be to change zoning laws so developers can build new housing closer to where people work. Another is to improve mass transit so commuters don’t have to rely so much on their own cars.
The bill contains significant incentives: promise of substantial federal and state money to regions whose plans pass muster. In addition, and with the consent of the environmentalists, the state will relax various environmental rules to allow “infill” — higher-density land use in or near cities and towns.
The bill’s sponsors worked closely with the developers and environmental groups, and the measure is the latest in a string of initiatives from the California Legislature, including a 2002 law that would greatly reduce carbon emissions from automobiles, and a 2006 law requiring that one-fifth of California’s energy come from wind and other renewable sources. Given California’s size, these and other initiatives will help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
New York and 15 other states have already said they will adopt California’s automobile emissions standards when the federal government gives them the green light — which the Bush administration has stubbornly refused to do.
More progress would be made if other industrial countries follow. But it is not very easy for China, India and other countries competing with the developed industrialised world to curb or even reduce their appetite for energy. Global climate change is not on their agenda as long as they are not hit hard by the natural calamities like massive floods, raging typhoons, drought and crop failure. All are the consequences of the human greed.
Unfortunate, the Muslims and the areas where they are the dominant parts of the inhabitants are nowhere part of the efforts to avert the ecological disaster. Allah gave them the “answer”:
O Children of Adam! Beautify yourselves for every act of worship,
And eat and drink (freely); but do not waste.
Verily He (God) does not love the wasteful (Al-A’raaf:31)