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rtcc respoNd

That is changing: “There have been a lot of grassroots eforts that They abstain from alcohol, are warned against excessive meat-eatng
have been percolatng up. It has now really come back to the fore.” and must use water sparingly when they carry out ritual washing
before prayer.
islamic voices
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a leading Islamic philosopher, has also found his “Our harmony with the environment around us is not only going
work on the environment slow to take root. to be an economically smart move,” says Christopher, “it is also a
spiritually nourishing exercise.”
“At frst it was a deaf ear from everyone,” he says. “My frst listeners
were Westerners. It is only now that my teachings about the Climate karma
environment are getng tracton in the Islamic world.” Afer Christanity, with 2.4 billion adherents and Islam on 1.6 billion,
Hinduism is the third biggest religion in the world.
No religion has the same centralised authority as the Pope. Islam has
some voices on the environment, says Nasr, but they are “not at all Its 1 billion-odd followers nearly all live in India, where carbon
strong”. footprints are small more by necessity than choice. Most people eat
litle or no meat and more than 300 million lack access to electricity.
“When a preacher goes to preach in the mosque, he has to address
what is most urgent for people… It is very difcult to start talking In this context, the Pope’s warnings against wasteful
about the environment – you frst have to survive. But I don’t think overconsumpton have litle direct relevance.
this is an excuse. It is a very urgent mater.”
“In India, the topic of climate change at the grassroots level is not
Religion does not operate in a vacuum and some of the most really in the vocabulary,” says Gopal Patel, of Oxford University’s
devoutly Islamic countries in the world are also the most oil-rich. Bhumi Project.
That inevitably makes it harder to talk about slashing greenhouse gas To those Hindus who are aware, the encyclical shows that Christans
emissions, which means phasing out the fossil fuel that made them are taking seriously a problem that is having severe impacts on the
wealthy. subcontnent.
“Of course these countries like Saudi Arabia don’t want to talk about Around 20 Hindus are set to atend a conference of young faith
cutng down oil consumpton in order to save the planet,” says Nasr. leaders on climate change in Rome at the end of the month. It is
tmed around a march to St Peter’s Square celebratng the encyclical.
But for those paying atenton: “Islam has a vast environmental
teaching, which is dovetailed into everyday life.” For Patel, there are important distnctons between the Hindu
approach and Abrahamic traditons.
Indeed, Green Muslims director Colin Christopher tells RTCC he was
drawn to Islam about fve years ago by its emphasis on conservaton Instead of heaven and hell, Hindus believe in reincarnaton. The
and moderaton. typical “12 months to save the planet” narratves of Westerners don’t
really ft with their ideas of cosmic order, he says.
Worldwide, Muslims have a month of daytme fastng for Ramadan,
one of the fve pillars of Islam. “It is very black and white. Hinduism talks in shades of grey… more in
terms of a long term changing of lifestyles.”
The modish expression of climate concern among churches is to
divest funds from fossil fuels. Patel argues they should look to their
diets rather than blaming others.
“Slaughter of billions of animals every single year is a much bigger
contributor to the problem,” he says. “There is a karmic reacton to
that, we are going to sufer for it.”
Indian consumpton
Whether or not you believe you’ll be punished for meat-eatng in the
next life, it is undeniably a signifcant factor in global warming.
Animal rearing takes more resources than plant crops, while cows and
sheep digestng grass release methane, a potent warming gas.
A quick run of the UK government-backed Global Calculator, which
allows anyone to model the impact of diferent actons on emissions,
shows the impact.
If everyone adopted Indian levels of meat consumpton, which are
20 tmes lower than in Europe, it would prevent an estmated 3,480
gigatonnes of CO2 emissions by 2100. That’s a 45% reducton on
business as usual, without any other measures.
There may be no menton of meat in the encyclical, but it does invite
everyone to join the conversaton.
The Pope writes: “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about
how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversaton
which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are
Photo: © MM,
undergoing, and its human roots, concern and afect us all.” 65
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