A recent public poll by Pew finds that climate change rates dead last, as number 20 of the 20 big issues of concern to Americans (NPR story).
This all despite the Copenhagen summit, which has suddenly thrust discussions on climate change and human impact on the environment back into the nightly news.
It’s true: the issue is extremely complex and it’s difficult to understand how each of us are a part of the problem, let alone how we might be a part of the solution.
But in the very least, what we can start with is avoiding apathy and connecting our hearts to the creation we are charged with the responsibility of protecting.
As the Prophet Muhammad (s) said:
“Anyone who sees something reprehensible should change it with his hand; if he is not able to do that then with his tongue; and if he not able to do that, then with his heart, and that is the weakest [form] of faith.”
An utterly breathtaking series by the BBC, titled “Life,” goes a long way toward restoring the type of awe and respect for the beauty of God’s creation we need back in our hearts.
Take, for example, this one on the amazing world of fish – it’s a must watch!
The documentary will be released in the US in March with Oprah narrating and is being shown in other countries. If the link doesn’t work for your country, these video excerpts also capture some of the majesty: Fish Balls vs Sharks and Flying Fish (~1 min each).
The documentary brings home some of what’s at stake when we talk about issues of environmental degradation, such as how devastating a study by ecologists a few years ago is in its finding that there may be ‘only 50 years left’ for sea fish.
As the BBC reported:
“There will be virtually nothing left to fish from the seas by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a major scientific study. Stocks have collapsed in nearly one-third of sea fisheries, and the rate of decline is accelerating.” Read more
Also See, NYTimes: follow-up research by same scientist offering hope for reversal
It would be a shame for us to have to tell our grandchildren that we squandered the great gifts from Allah – including fish- for the Qur’an reminds us that:
“It is He who subjected the sea for you to eat from it tender meat and to extract from it ornaments which you wear. And you see the ships plowing through it, and [He subjected it] that you may seek of His bounty; and perhaps you will be grateful.” (16:14)
In fact, our success is tied to whether or not we recognize the value of these gifts: “[Those of understanding are] such as remember Allah, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, (and say): Our Lord! You did not create this in vain. Glory be to You!; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” (Qur’an, 3:191) We’re reminded repeatedly that the creation of the universe was a serious affair, not some sport or triviality. Allah reminds us, “Do you think, then, that We created you in sport and that you shall not be returned to Us (charged with responsibility)? (Qur’an, 23:115)
There are these and countless examples throughout the Quran and hadith invoking the beauty and wonder of creation – the very least we can do is start by placing its protection higher on our priorities.