Academic journal article Journal of Economic Cooperation & Development

Environment and Islam

Academic journal article Journal of Economic Cooperation & Development

Environment and Islam

Article excerpt

For the last two hundred years, unprecedented environmental challenges and irreversible mass extinctions have been caused on the Earth including a rising trend in the global temperature during the 20th century. The loading capacity of the world has already been reached, and severe tensions between unending demands of the human beings and the finite natural resources of the world have become more apparent. The seemingly innocent and dulcet "laissez-faire" rhetoric in capitalist system promoted the removal of all meaningful checks and balances pertaining to production and consumption activities, and have resulted in the terrific destruction of our natural assets. Excessive consumption (and so production) and squandering are in the heart of the global environmental problems, and there is a strong need for the revival of the critical human values of moderation and thriftiness. Cumulative burden of individual irresponsibility can no longer be tolerated. Recent experiences demonstrate that any development model devoid of an ethical view on the environment, will be dominated by the uncontrolled exploitation of the natural assets with irreversible damages. Islam, as a religion of moderation, presents a viable alternative towards addressing the current challenges. Moderation refers not only to the personal lives of the believers but also to their interaction with fellow human beings and the nature they live in. Nature has been created in order, balance and with extraordinary esthetic beauty, and all these aspects of nature while enhancing man's life here, should be honored, utilized and protected accordingly. All patterns of man's production and consumption should be based on an overall order and balance of nature, which is a fundamental component of any meaningful approach towards a more environmentally friendly socio-economic development.

1. Introduction

For the last two hundred years, unprecedented environmental challenges and irreversible mass extinctions have been caused on the Earth including a rising trend in the global temperature during the 20th century. Considerable research findings by many scientists across the disciplines demonstrate that climate change is a reality and 'very likely' human-induced event. According to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), leading climate scientists now feel confident that human activity is heating up the planet since Industrial Revolution (IPCC, 2010). Consistent with this, emissions per head are highest in developed countries and much lower in developing countries-although developing countries are likely to be closing the gap, because of their more rapid collective growth and their increasing share of more energy-intensive industries (Hovi and Holtsmark, 2006). Unfortunately, studies further suggest that those activities will more likely continue to affect climate adversely over the next century (Nordhaus, 2007). With this greatest damage, some estimates suggest that not only are more than one hundred species a day becoming extinct, but also our natural resources that sustain life on the planet-air, water and soilare becoming polluted or depleted on an alarming scale together with exponentially increasing human population growth (Des Jardins, 2001). This means that as the prospects for reversing the continued degradation and depletion of natural resources plummet, natural resources on the planet such as clean water, clean air and clean soil will become a luxury, and resources for the survival of future generations will be scarce4. A comprehensive survey of the international environmental agreements and their practical impact on the environmental problems they target shows that there is no strong consensus by the countries to address the current challenges effectively (Alpay, 2002).

Climate change is one of the many different forms of the unprecedented degradation in our common environmental assets. According to Living Planet Report of the WWF 2012, since the 1970s, annual demand on the natural world by human beings has exceeded the annual Earth's regenerative capacity, indicating an eventual depletion of our natural resources. …

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