Protecting natural world as a divine trust
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
“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.