Within a span of a year, Greta Thunberg’s weekly lone ranger act of skipping school to stage a climate strike outside the Swedish parliament has spread globally into what is known as the Fridays for Future movement. Despite being at the tender age of 16 and diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, Greta’s display of her commitment to the cause has been impressive.
By refusing environmental awards and refraining from travelling by air for international conferences, she has catapulted herself as a leading climate change campaigner, and earning audiences with various international leaders and politicians. Her message to them: to “listen to the science”, and also understand the acuteness of impending environmental disasters.
While these consistent and passionate efforts by a female teenager with disabilities are commendable, it is unclear how influential Greta’s call to “listen to the science” will be in getting politicians and corporations to address this “urgent climate emergency”.
Without discrediting the genuine concern that these young protesters have about the catastrophic impacts of climate change, one way forward would be to comprehensively understand existing societal concerns, and engage existing social movements. In other words, to listen to societies.
On 13 May 2011, I was featured in Singapore’s Malay Newspaper – Berita Harian – for my research and advocacy work on faith-based environmentalism.
In the interview, I noted how countries in the Muslim World largely fall into at least one of three categories in relation to climate change.
Victims of climate change: Countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia face rising sea levels and flooding, while sub-saharan Africa face drought.
Contributors of climate change: Oil-rich Gulf Arab states have one of the highest carbon emissions per capita in the world, while the rate of deforestation in Indonesia makes its total carbon emissions to be just behind the US and China.
Solutions to address climate change: Despite the bleak scenario, there are still opportunities for countries in the Muslim world to play a more active role in addressing environmental challenges. Resource rich Muslim countries ought to better strategise how they can invest in technology and other solutions. More effort would be needed for forest rich countries like Indonesia to preserve and rehabilitate their forests which act as “carbon sinks”.
In addition, all Muslims can do their part by taking inspiration and guidance from their faith. Despite the wealth of Islamic knowledge on nature and the environment, little has been done by Muslims to operationalise these principles. In this regard, further community action is needed.
When I saw this video (below), I was like “Dayummmmm..” I mean what’s a party without a bowl of Doritos? That convenient [read: LAZY] option to just grab from the store to entertain guests or bring to a pot luck gathering.
The solution: Just gotta be a bit more creative and try healthier options then… like good ol’ carrot and celery sticks and dips. Or altenative corn chips that don’t have a bad rep (but probably cost a little more).
It’s funny how many of us would say we’re environmentally-conscious, but as we dig deeper and deeper, we realise that there’s a lot more to be done. Our consumption patterns more than we think.
It sure isn’t going happen over night. Doritos will still be a permanent feature in many parties. But with greater awareness, people can make better choices, inshaAllah. In any case, for me personally, its just another reason for me to stop eating junk.
To sign the petition against Doritos’ parent company PepsiCo from destroying the planet, click here.
If you want change, you have to be the change. Do it.
Three Years after the Fukushima Nuclear disaster several Southeast Asian governments have revived their nuclear plans, with Vietnam leading the way for six nuclear plants. The moves have been galvanised by Japan’s U-turn to retain nuclear energy after initially wanting to phase out nuclear power plants after the 3-11 disaster.
Like it or not, the prospects for nuclear energy in Southeast Asia are likely to grow, thus making it necessary for governments to give sufficient attention to their public awareness strategies on nuclear energy.
On 8 February 2014, Young AMP launched ‘Faith and Nature: An Eco-Guide to Greening Faith Communities’ in a bid to enhance environmental awareness and action amongst faith-based communities and organisations in Singapore. This publication was jointly authored by Sofiah Jamil, member of the Board of Management of Young AMP who champions Project ME: Muslims and Environment, and Farheen Mukri, from FirstFern Training and Consultancy.
In addition to highlighting environmental principles embedded in various faiths, the eco-guide also includes a checklist for faith-based organisations (including places of worship and religious schools) to audit their current efforts in adopting environmentally friendly practices, as well as recommending ways to reduce resource consumption in their daily faith community activities and engage other stakeholders.
The event also included an inter-faith panel discussion on the role of faith communities in environmental action. Panellists for the session were Brother Esmond Chua (Order of the Friars Minor), Venerable Seck Kwang Phing (Singapore Buddhist Federation), Master Chung Kwang Tong (Taoist Federation Youth Group) and Mr Vivek Kumra (Hindu Endowments Board). Sofiah moderated the discussion and shared some insights from her ongoing PhD research on Islamic environmental initiatives.
The discussions showed that there were many common themes across faiths on environmental protection such as humans’ responsibility in protecting God’s creations, the role of the youth in spearheading environmental action, and the importance of education for all sections of society.
Discussions were all the livelier given the active audience participation. Amongst the 60-odd participants were members of various faiths and environmental activists. The latter group provided various examples and practical solutions that could be adopted by the various faith communities. Ibu Mahaya Menon, for instance, spoke of the significance of natural medicinal plants, while Bhavani Prakash spoke of the prospects of growing your own food in limited spaces and visiting areas that have successfully walked the environmental talk.
Some among the audience also noted in the subsequent discussion that the society of today is preoccupied with consumerism, which increases the degree to which urban dwellers value materialistic lifestyles. Such attitudes also permeate how many believers approach their own religions; some believe that they can spend more money to win more blessings from their deities, while others believe that they do more good than others by virtue of donating more money.
If you’re in Singapore on the 8 February 2014, do come for the Launch of Faith & Nature: An Eco-Guide to Greening Faith Communities. This eco-guide is a must have to equip faith and community organisations with the necessary tools on how to operationalise environmental ethics and principles. The event will also have an inter-faith panel discussion on how various faith communities can do their part in increasing environmental awareness and action. Best part, the book is freely available to all 🙂
Interested participants are kindly requested to register as shown in the poster above.
For more information and to download your free copy of the Eco-Guide, pleaseclick here.
It was barely a couple of weeks ago when I first heard about FiTree and their plans to organise a couple of Green Iftars during the month of Ramadan — on the 15th and 27th July 2013. “OH YES!!! Finally, more Singapore Muslims are actively thinking and doing their bit for the environment.”
Green Iftars may be seen as a novelty in Singapore, but is nevertheless part of a steady trend amongst environmentally-conscious Muslims worldwide attempting to operationalise and mainstream environmental practices in their communities, based on Islamic principles related to the environment. Last year, a few of us did our own small-scale green iftar.
FiTree’s efforts are commendable given the fact that they’ve recieved great support from Masjid Darul Aman to organise the iftar. In addition to being given the liberty to put up posters and set up their booths virtually anywhere around the mosque, Masjid Darul Aman has also supported FiTree introducing the use of biodegradable cutlery for the event.
Fellow Project ME-er, Ibrahim, and myself rocked up at Masjid Darul Iman at about 6pm. FiTree folks were busy putting the final touches to their posters and two booths – one on the men’s side and another on the women’s side of the mosque. In addition to giving out free bookmarks with various Quranic verses on the environment printed on them, FiTree folks also selling cute little badges for 2 bucks. A tazkirah (sermon) on the importance of the environment in Islam was also delivered prior to the breaking of fast.
After breaking fast and Maghrib prayers, Project ME-ers and some members of FiTree had a chat on how the evening went and other broader issues related to Islamic environmentalism. Given that it was the first Green Iftar in a mosque, it was interesting to observe the responses of the congregation. Speaking in Malay was clearly an important factor in relaying the message, particularly to the older men and women in the mosque, and it was great that the FiTree bookmarks had both English and Malay translations of the Quranic verses. Another interesting response from several makciks when given the bookmarks was “Do I have to pay for this?”, to which we responded “No Aunty, it’s free”. A few of them placed their new bookmarks in between the pages of their qurans and Islamic books.
This has certainly been a good start for FiTree and part of their learning curve in further advancing FiTree’s efforts to increase envioronmental awareness amongst Muslims. If you would like to participate in their next Green Iftar, do check out their Facebook page.