Climate Change and Islam

Professor Lesley Hughes & Heather Fagan speak at launch of Islamic Climate Action Kit

Professor Lesley Hughes & Heather Fagan speak at launch of Islamic Climate Action Kit

On Wednesday 29th October the topic of ISRA’s Monthly Intellectual Lecture Series was

Climate Change and Islam.

The first speaker, Professor Lesley Hughes, from Macquarie University, presented on climate change on a global scale and within the Australian context. She provided overwhelming statistics of the damage caused by humanity.

She explained that global warming is largely due to increased carbon emissions or greenhouse gases. This results in an increase in 'above average' temperatures, less cold days and more hot days. She explained that global warming is resulting in damaging implications for our natural ecosystems which can cope with only 0.05 - 0.1 degree increase per decade.

Professor Hughes explained that the effects of global warming are already evident in the world's icecaps melting and sea levels rising. New Zealand has lost 50 percent of its ice volume over the past decade. She noted that while the weather conditions are not increasing in frequency, they are becoming more severe, including tropical storms, severe droughts and flooding rains. She also noted that Australia is in the top 2 percent of countries for causing species to become extinct, and on a global scale, 20 - 40 percent of species are facing extinction.

Professor Hughes warned of the implications of maintaining the current direction. She concluded by offering the positive message that we can start undoing the damage and provided way we could help reduce the effects of global warming, including reducing our CO2 emissions, recycling, controlling foreign fauna and reducing coal mining.

The second speaker, Heather Fagan, recently completed Masters research on Islam and the environment. She presented the Islamic perspective of climate change, including references to relevant verses from the Qur’an and incidents and lessons from the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). She explained that through observing and reflecting on the universe, we could see the unity and oneness of God as everything is interconnected and worshipping God through their being. Through observing the universe, God's mercy is shown as every creature has a source of sustenance and a perfect role to ensure the balance in the universe.

Heather explained how humans were assigned as vicegerents on earth and as such would be held accountable for their treatment of the earth and all living species, as well as how it is preserved for future generations. Using examples from the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) she explained the importance of preserving all resources, including not wasting water during ablution even if one were next to a flowing river, and the Prophet's advice to plant a tree in place of every tree that was cut, similar to the modern day tree planting days held in Australia. She advised that we need to find the balance between the use and misuse of the environment and truly recognise and appreciate the blessings provided in the form of food and agriculture.

The night concluded with the launch of the Islamic Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) Action Kit. The kit provides a practical guide to address our modern lifestyle regarding practical tips on environment.

It was an extremely interesting and thought-provoking night that forced the audience reflect and act in a way that will help preserve our environment and start undoing the damage that has been caused. There is still hope for the future and educational sessions like this lecture are one of many ways to start achieving great results.