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Behold the sacred tree which spreads its shade over the whole world! – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 54.
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.
In our modern, industrialized era, economic growth typically equals more carbon.
That’s because periods of expansion in the world’s economy have always meant higher carbon dioxide emissions from more cars and power plants and factories. If you overlaid the two graphs—world economic growth and carbon emissions—you would see that they have mirrored each other very closely for the past four decades.
But last year, for the first time ever, we broke that pattern. (Way to go, world!)
In 2014, the planetary economy grew at a fairly normal three percent rate, but carbon emissions remained flat, the same as 2013’s levels. Just a few weeks ago, the International Energy Agency announced that we had severed the relationship between growth and emissions for the first time ever. In order to defeat the worst effects of climate change, we’ll have to do that repeatedly.
In fact, to escape the most drastic impacts of climate change, we need to reduce carbon emissions, not just keep them from rising every year. Worldwide carbon emissions must fall at a 6% rate annually—and reach zero sometime during this century–if we want to stop global warming. Can we do it?
The evidence says it’s possible—with effort. The United States, for example, had economic growth of 9% between 2008 and 2013; and reduced its carbon emissions by almost 8% during the same period. With concerted, unified action, and enlightened policies that address the problem, we can beat it. We can de-couple our economies from carbon, and power the world without heating it to unsustainable levels.
Part of that global success has occurred because of the creative, concerted and unified campaigns of faith communities all over the world. People of faith—and of all Faiths—have increasingly come together to protect Creation. They have even taken a major role in crafting moral, legal and scientific policy at the international level, encouraging and informing world leaders charged with reaching a climate agreement in Paris in December.
With service to others a primary Baha’i priority, both individual Baha’is and the official Baha’i administration have assisted by giving their ongoing support to these global environmental campaigns.
If you’d like to read more about what the Baha’is are doing and have done, take a look at just one example—the International Environment Forum website: www.iefworld.org Membership in the IEF, a Baha’i-inspired organization that promotes a sustainable global environment, is open to members of all faiths and no faith, and members work to apply the Baha’i principles of unity and sustainability to the practical environmental problems facing the world today.
Baha’is actively participate, as well, in a number of non-partisan interfaith environmental groups and campaigns. One very active group–The Faithful Call to Address Climate Change—has petitioned leaders like President Obama and the U.S. Congress, calling for a strong commitment to address climate change. They support legally-binding, scientifically-recommended global solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while providing poor and vulnerable communities with meaningful support “to build low carbon and climate-resilient societies.” Sign Faithful Call’s petition to American policymakers.
Another faith-based advocacy group—Our Voices.net—has this to say about the intersection between climate and religion:
As people of faith and belief we feel a personal and collective sense of love and responsibility for the wellbeing of our 7 billion global neighbours and for nature itself. This the heart of ourvoices.net. Make no mistake. Climate change is not just an environmental problem. It is a humanitarian and development emergency, and it’s already affecting many vulnerable communities. This is why, as people of faith, we believe that climate change is a moral issue. – http://ourvoices.net
Interfaith Power and Light, a highly-effective interreligious coalition, 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 important cause. Only by coming together as communities can we urgently and effectively implore our leaders to make the right decisions for our grandchildren and the generations that follow them, and make our way toward a more divine civilization:
…material civilization alone does not insure the safety and progress of mankind, but brings into existence the greatest instruments for human fratricide and destruction of property, and animalistic propensities reach their height under its influence.
Divine civilization, on the other hand, assists man in acquiring heavenly virtues, thus freeing him from oppression, cruelty, and greed brought about by the exploitation of his fellow-man for his own gain. Divine civilization is a symposium of the perfections of the world of humanity. Divine civilization is the improvement of the ethical life of a nation. Divine civilization is the discovery of the reality of phenomena. Divine civilization is the spiritual philosophy. Divine civilization is the knowledge of God with rational and intellectual evidences. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 4.