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The Baha'i teachings assure humanity that the entire physical creation—the Earth and every living thing on it—has been created to become “a true abode of bliss:”
The Lord of all mankind hath fashioned this human realm to be a Garden of Eden, an earthly paradise. If, as it must, it findeth the way to harmony and peace, to love and mutual trust, it will become a true abode of bliss, a place of manifold blessings and unending delights. Therein shall be revealed the excellence of humankind, therein shall the rays of the Sun of Truth shine forth on every hand. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 275.
So in this final essay in the series, let’s look at the many ways that positive process has started to happen.
Yes, good news about climate change and our environment does exist. We often don’t hear about it in the barrage of stories about catastrophic storms, floods and drought, species extinction, record loss of polar ice and relentless bleaching of coral reefs—but the world has made some progress:
- Global investment in renewable energy has risen to twice the investment in fossil fuels.
- Coal consumption—the dirtiest fossil fuel—has dropped significantly, even in places like China and England.
- Alternative fuel vehicle sales are rising rapidly all over the world.
- The worldwide divestment movement, in which investors, corporations, cities and whole countries give up their investments in fossil fuels, is gaining momentum.
- Most importantly, the realities of climate change—and belief in its long-term effects and the solutions necessary to solve it—have begun to permeate the consciousness of people from every part of the planet.
A big part of that global rise in consciousness has occurred because of the creative, concerted and unified campaigns of faith communities all over the world. People of faith have increasingly come together to protect Creation. Believers from all Faiths have played a major role in crafting moral, legal and scientific policy at the international level, encouraging and informing world leaders charged with reaching and implementing the Paris Climate Accords, for example. They have repeatedly encouraged their followers to pay attention to climate change:
The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. – Pope Francis, Laudato Si, the Papal Encyclical on Climate Change and Poverty.
Pollution and global warming pose an even greater threat than war, and the fight to preserve the environment could be the most positive way of bringing humanity together. – Sheikh Ali Gomaa, Islamic Grand Mufti of Egypt
Each believer and each leader, each field and each discipline, each institution and each individual must be touched by the call to change our greedy ways and destructive habits. – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Spiritual Leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, speaking at the U.N. Interfaith Summit on Climate Change, 2014.
Climate change creates pain, suffering, and violence. Unless we change how we use energy, how we use the land, how we grow our crops, how we treat other animals, and how we use natural resources, we will only further this pain, suffering, and violence. – The Hindu Declaration on Climate Change.
Excessive pollution from fossil fuels threatens to destroy the gifts bestowed on us by God, whom we know as Allah–gifts such as a functioning climate, healthy air to breathe, regular seasons, and living oceans. But our attitude to these gifts has been short-sighted, and we have abused them. What will future generations say of us, who leave them a degraded planet as our legacy? How will we face our Lord and Creator? – The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change.
The worst possible aspect of climate change is that it will be irreversible and irrevocable. Therefore, there is the urgency to do whatever we can to protect the environment while we can. – The Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhist leader
We now face the unprecedented challenge of climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions, and the need for serious and urgent action on this issue has never been clearer. Climate change is fundamentally a social justice issue that marries our mandate to be good stewards of the earth with our call to care for the least among us. – 2009 Resolution of the Commission on Social Action to the Union for Reform Judaism.
Christians, noting the fact that most of the climate change problem is human induced, are reminded that when God made humanity he commissioned us to exercise stewardship over the earth and its creatures. Climate change is the latest evidence of our failure to exercise proper stewardship, and constitutes a critical opportunity for us to do better. – Official statement of the Evangelical Climate Initiative
The principle of the oneness of humankind must become the ruling principle of international life. This principle does not seek to undermine national autonomy or suppress cultural or intellectual diversity. Rather, it makes it possible to view the climate change challenge through a new lens—one that perceives humanity as a unified whole, not unlike the cells of the human body, infinitely differentiated in form and function yet united in a common purpose which exceeds that of its component parts. This principle constitutes more than a call for cooperation; it seeks to remold anachronistic and unjust patterns of human interaction in a manner that reflects the relationships that bind us as members of one human race. – “Seizing the Opportunity: Redefining the Challenge of Climate Change,” Statement of the Baha’i International Community, December 2008.
One Baha'i-inspired example—the International Environment Forum—promotes a sustainable global environment, is open to members of all faiths and no faith, and works to apply the Baha’i principles of unity and sustainability to the practical environmental problems facing the world today.
With service to others a primary Baha’i priority, both individual Baha’is and the Baha’i administrative order have assisted by giving their ongoing support to these global environmental campaigns. In another example, Baha’is actively support Interfaith Power and Light, a highly-effective interreligious coalition, which started out by “greening” churches, temples and mosques, but has since expanded their mission as faithful stewards of Creation by:
… responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. This campaign intends to protect the earth’s ecosystems, safeguard the health of all Creation, and ensure sufficient, sustainable energy for all. – www.interfaithpowerandlight.org
The global Baha’i community has joyfully joined and continues to enthusiastically support these groundbreaking interfaith efforts to combat climate change, and encourages individuals and groups of all kinds to add their voices and efforts to this vitally important cause. Please join us!