Earth Day reminder: It's God's creation, but our responsibility | Faith & Values
In a time of environmental crisis, our faith traditions can shed light on how to care for the planet.
Special to The Seattle Times
Tomorrow is the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day, which comes at a time when God's creation is facing global warming, deforestation, coastal erosion, pollution and famine — all the results of human choices.
On this day it's appropriate to acknowledge God, whose complex and magnificent creation was intelligently designed to be our own unique environment, which we have been entrusted to protect.
But let's face it, our American lifestyle comes with a huge carbon debt. Have you considered how many more planets we would need if everyone on Earth lived like us?
Unstopped, climate change alone could cause the disappearance of countless environments.
I've been a fond admirer of Mohamed Nasheed, a former president of the Maldives, whose passionate commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions caught the world's attention at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit.
This brave and sincere man stars in a new documentary, "The Island President," giving a human face to the issue of climate change while showcasing the environmental crisis of his island paradise, which welcomes travelers from around the world.
This archipelago of 1,200 low-lying islands in the blue waters of the Indian Ocean is blessed with soft-sand beaches, bright-blue skies and year around sunshine. But it all may soon disappear because of rising sea levels.
The increasing global temperatures and steady rise in ocean levels caused by melting polar ice has led to serious erosion on some islands, and there is recent evidence the phenomenon could happen here in the Pacific Northwest.
I recently saw a study by Climate Central, a nonprofit research group, and the University of Arizona that says 17,500 Northwest homes could be in harm's way from rising seas caused by global warming over the next century.
It's hard to appreciate the urgency of our environmental crisis when we can step outside and see plentiful trees, pristine lakes, snow-capped mountain ranges and a rain forest. But the crisis is upon us.
From an Islamic perspective, all humans (no matter their faith) are considered vicegerents of the environment, a sobering responsibility. The Quran has more than 700 verses encouraging believers to ponder nature.
I see Earth Day as a perfect time to explore one another's faith traditions for their guidance on caring for the planet. All of the Abrahamic faiths could likely agree that creation has inalienable rights endowed by its Creator.
By accepting our role as stewards willing to work to preserve and protect our planet, we could bring our communities even closer together. No matter your faith or geographical location, simply committing to the 3 R's of conservation — Recycle, Reduce and Reuse — can go a long way in helping all humanity work toward leaving the planet better than we found it.
In another 42 years, I hope folks say we were the mindful ones who saw the warning signs and took the corrective actions that ensured a healthy and sustainable environment for future generations.
Aziz Junejo is host of "Focus on Islam," a weekly cable-television show, and a frequent speaker on Islam. Readers may send feedback to email@example.com