Pro­tect­ing nat­u­ral world as a di­vine trust

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The beauty, rich­ness and and di­ver­sity of the nat­u­ral world are all ex­pres­sions of the at­tributes of God. We as hu­man be­ings, in the Bahá’í view, are cus­to­di­ans of the earth and have the obli­ga­tion to en­sure that na­ture is pro­tected as part of a di­vine trust, for which hu­man­ity is ul­ti­mately an­swer­able.

The United Na­tions 2015 Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence (COP21), which was held in Paris re­cently, is a re­minder of the need to pro­tect the na­ture. Cli­mate change — a change di­rectly or in­di­rectly re­lated to hu­man ac­tiv­ity that al­ters the com­po­si­tion of the global at­mos­phere — has be­come a se­ri­ous mat­ter of con­cern.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from UNDP, the con­se­quences of a 2oc or greater in­crease in global tem­per­a­ture will in­clude, among oth­ers: coastal flood­ing dis­plac­ing 180-230 mil­lion peo­ple; wa­ter short­ages af­fect­ing 1.8 bil­lion peo­ple; and will put 220-400 mil­lion peo­ple at risk of malaria.

Gen­uine so­lu­tions to pro­tect the na­ture, in the Bahá’í view, will re­quire a glob­ally-ac­cepted vi­sion for the fu­ture, based on unity, jus­tice and will­ing co­op­er­a­tion among the na­tions, races, creeds, and classes of the hu­man fam­ily. Fur­ther­more, com­mit- ment to a higher moral stan­dard will be es­sen­tial.

We will al­ways need ma­te­rial re­sources to sus­tain civ­i­liza­tion. As we learn how best to use the earth’s raw ma­te­ri­als for ad­vance­ment of civ­i­liza­tion, we must be con­scious of our at­ti­tudes to­wards the source of our sus­te­nance and wealth.

It is im­por­tant that we pre­serve or­der and bal­ance in the na­ture. The end­less ac­qui­si­tion of ma­te­rial goods, re­sult­ing by greed, ag­gra­vates the de­struc­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment.

The re­la­tion­ships that link peo­ple to one an­other have a di­rect im­pact on the phys­i­cal re­sources of our planet. There is a close re­la­tion, for ex­am­ple, be­tween in­equal­ity and en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion. Cur­rent sys­tems and prac­tices that have re­sulted in large seg­ments of so­ci­ety fac­ing poverty, have sim­i­larly im­pov­er­ished the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. De­struc­tive im­pacts of cli­mate change are ag­gra­vated by the ex­tremes of wealth and poverty.

The search for so­lu­tions to cli­mate change has re­vealed the lim­its of tra­di­tional tech­no­log­i­cal and pol­icy ap­proaches and has raised ques­tions about jus­tice, equity, re­spon­si­bil­ity and obli­ga­tion. It is im­por­tant that search for so­lu­tions to world’s se­ri­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems go be­yond tech­ni­cal pro­pos­als and ad­dresses the un­der­ly­ing causes of the cri­sis.

So­lu­tions to the en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems, in the Bahá’í view, will re­quire a vi­sion for the fu­ture, based on unity and co­op­er­a­tion among the peo­ple of all back­grounds. It should be rooted in spir­i­tual val­ues and prin­ci­ples in ad­di­tion to tech­ni­cal and eco­nomic con­sid­er­a­tions.

More than 100 years ago Bahá’u’lláh wrote: “Na­ture in its essence is the em­bod­i­ment of (God’s) Name, the Maker, the Cre­ator ... Na­ture is God’s Will and is its ex­pres­sion in and through the con­tin­gent world.” Na­ture is to be re­spected and pro­tected as part of a di­vine trust for which hu­man­ity is an­swer­able.

A bal­anced at­ti­tude to­wards

en­vi­ron­ment

“A more bal­anced at­ti­tude to­ward the en­vi­ron­ment must there­fore ad­dress hu­man con­di­tions as con­sciously as it does nat­u­ral ones.

It must be em­bod­ied in so­cial norms and pat­terns of ac­tion char­ac­ter­ized by jus­tice and equity. On this foun­da­tion can be built an evolv­ing vi­sion of our com­mon fu­ture to­gether.

And that vi­sion, in turn, stands as a pow­er­ful mech­a­nism for mo­bi­liz­ing ac­tion around the world and co­or­di­nat­ing nu­mer­ous ef­forts into mu­tu­ally-re­in­forc­ing lines of ac­tion”, states the Bahá’í In­ter­na­tional Com­mu­nity’s state­ment to the Paris Con­fer­ence en­ti­tled: “Shared Vi­sion, Shared Vo­li­tion: Choos­ing Our Global Fu­ture To­gether”.

The need for in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment can­not be over-em­pha­sized. The lo­cal, na­tional and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties are very much linked through the en­vi­ron­ment.

There is need for jus­tice in uti­liz­ing the earth’s re­sources. Up­hold­ing jus­tice im­plies mov­ing from the self-in­ter­est that dom­i­nates our world to­day to a mode of shar­ing and car­ing for our nat­u­ral re­sources.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bahá’í In­ter­na­tional Com­mu­nity’s state­ment to Paris Con­fer­ence “In the face of the de­struc­tive im­pacts of cli­mate change — ex­ac­er­bated by the ex­tremes of wealth and poverty - a need for new ap­proaches cen­tered on the prin­ci­ples of jus­tice and equity is ap­par­ent …” and “A rich and deep­en­ing con­scious­ness of the one­ness of hu­mankind is the only way that the ob­sta­cles inherent in di­chotomies like rich/poor, north/south, de­vel­oped/de­vel­op­ing can be over­come”.

Fur­ther­more, in the Bahá’í view, there is need for a world fed­eral sys­tem to en­able mankind to ar­range its eco­nomic, ma­te­rial and so­cial life with jus­tice for all peo­ples and rev­er­ence to­wards the earth.

To have the op­por­tu­nity for all peo­ple to re­al­ize their full po­ten­tial is a ba­sic hu­man right, and all should be con­cerned with en­sur­ing the same for oth­ers.

“The shift to sus­tain­able modes of pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion is a fur­ther ex­pres­sion of this prin­ci­ple: put sim­ply, to con­sume more than one’s fair share is to de­plete the re­sources needed by oth­ers”.

We should al­ways re­mem­ber that fu­ture pros­per­ity and the peace­ful co-ex­is­tence of peo­ples will de­pend on ac­cess to and con­ser­va­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources abun­dantly pro­vided to hu­man­ity by the Almighty Cre­ator.

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