Global Warming: Creating awareness is religious obligation of clerics, say scholars


Lahore: “Religious leaders have failed in their moral obligation to create awareness about climate change, scholars in a wide range of religions say.

Pakistan was awakened to the adverse effects of climate change in 2011when a massive flood drowned nearly half of the country. Last year 1,200 people died in a heat wave in Karachi. Over the years, Pakistan’s agriculture products have suffered enormously due to erratic monsoon rains and weather conditions. According to German Watch Index, a German-based think-tank on climate change the floods of 2010 resulted in six percent loss in GDP.

News Lens Pakistan talked to the representatives of different religious groups to find out if they are doing enough to contribute in what has become world’s number one concern: Climate Change.

Reverend Evelyn R. Bhajan, Diocese of Raiwind Church of Pakistan, said, “The Holy Bible provides us with numerous references which compel believers to work towards conservation of earth and its resources. Genesis 1 presents the idea that God created the Earth and humans, who have a unique and privileged position but have also been entrusted with the role of stewards. Care for God’s creation does not allow them to exploit the earth for economic self-interest.”

“Rather than having dominion over the earth, the believers are called to partner with God in taking the responsibility to care for their home.”

Bhajan says that the Pakistani church has largely failed to take this issue seriously within the church walls, and neither has it entered in the public square to address the situation. Religious leaders have the moral standing to call people to consider how their lives and activities are having an impact on the environment, she added.

The religious leaders, she said, are ill-equipped, and before they lead by example, they need to be trained in how to address this issue. “Sadly, there is excessive stress on spirituality and very less talk about how to live on this earth.”

Dr Muhammad Hammad Lakhvi, Professor of Islamic Studies, University of the Punjab Lahore, said that Quran has explicitly said human beings themselves would destroy the climate of this earth. He quoted a verse from a chapter called Ar-Rum: “Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness].”

On explaining if the pulpit in Islam is fulfilling its duty of creating awareness among Muslims about the changes taking places in climate, Dr Lakhvi said that our religious scholars are detached from the changing social issues in society. He stated that they had restricted themselves to the mosque. What is happening beyond the precincts of a mosque or seminary is none of their business, Lakhvi said.

Haroon Sarab Diyal, Chairman of All Pakistan Hindu Religious Movement, told News Lens Pakistan that even though Hinduism talks exclusively and in detail about vegetation and its impact in the universe, Hindu religious scholars are not performing their role for awareness about climate change, adds Diyal.

“Our holy books Vedas instructs us to plant trees and if a tree is cut down replace it with a new one. We are doing exactly the opposite. Whatever knowledge about climate change has reached us it is through researches by international organizations, religious groups or scholars have made no contribution to it,” said Diyal. He said that the Hindu scholars are not harmonious with the new developments taking place in the world and their knowledge about climate change is rudimentary, he added.

Sardar Charanjeet Singh, representative of Pakistan Council of World Religions and Sikhism, also lamented the sorry state of affairs of Sikh religious scholars. He said, “We spend millions in building vast and beautiful Gurdwaras, but when it comes to preserving nature, we become callous and poor, both materially and aesthetically.”

“Guru Granth Sahib is very clear about protecting nature and its elements and guides its followers to keep the world clean and free of nasty practices, but our religious scholars have been unable to get this teaching translated into action,” said Singh.

Pakistan was awakened to the adverse effects of climate change in 2011when a massive flood drowned nearly half of the country. Last year 1,200 people died in a heat wave in Karachi. Over the years, Pakistan’s agriculture products have suffered enormously due to erratic monsoon rains and weather conditions. According to German Watch Index, a German-based think-tank on climate change the floods of 2010 resulted in six percent loss in GDP.

The World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan), in collaboration with the London School of Economics-Political Sciences and Lahore University of Management Sciences, prepared a report highlighting the impact of climate change on agriculture and food security. According to the report, by 2040, an increase in average temperature of 0.5 degree Celsius is expected nationwide, with 8-10 percent loss in all crops corresponding to Pakistani rupees 30,000 per acre.

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