Religious Institutions Are Saving the Earth. How About You?
Saving the earth is now a worldwide issue.
The world, including the USA, consists of a multi-religious society living in harmony with each other.
It is estimated that over 80 percent of people in the world embrace a spiritual faith (there are some 2.0 billion Christians, 1.34 billion Muslims, 950 million Hindus and 200 million Buddhists).
The phobia of different religions and hate mongering between the religions are the work of a few irresponsible people. However, being rational and embracing humanity, we can overcome all these.
Each religion has a different area in the world where its believers are concentrated. But despite all the differences in the teachings and rituals, there is one common thing that all the religions call for.
It’s preserving mother nature.
Saving the earth: Being sustainable is being religious
All religions, by principle, acknowledge that nature is created by God and thus should be protected.
In 1903, President Teddy Roosevelt was convinced to create the US Protected Area system, with the argument that this would protect the ‘creation of God’.
He saw nature and biodiversity as the best evidence of there being a benevolent God and that faith-based argument helped established Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, and Mt. Rainier National Parks.
In spite of this, some misinterpretations of the religions have ironically occurred. The result is a false dogma about the absolute dominance of human over other life forms. Such understanding, however, is not well accepted.
Each religion, emphasizes the care of the environment by their unique concept, according to Curtis Abraham.
Christian teaching, for instance, in its Holy Bible told in Genesis about God speaking to Noah and telling him that he now establishes a pact between himself and every living creature on the ark (although different sects in Christian have various perspective on nature).
The Holy Quran of Islam, also promotes in its verses that all animals, including creatures that fly with wings, are precious to Allah.
Hinduism also is not left behind: it regards nature highly, especially for wild animals who possess symbolic power and subscribe to the Dharmic law of Ahimsa, non-violence, as a way of life.
It is delightful to see these three major world religions, together with all the other religions, taking proactive efforts to put this religious teaching into practice.
Here are some of the initiatives by the religious institutions on this matter.
It is not holier, with more water used in ablution
In the religion of Islam, Muslims are obliged to perform five daily prayers with ablution (washing some of their body parts using clean water) beforehand.
At the same time, they are taught to conserve the water consumption as much as possible during ablution. There is a hadith (saying) about Prophet Muhammad passing by one of his Companion who was performing ablution. The Prophet said: “What is this extravagance?”
Then he was asked: “Can there be any extravagance in ablution?” in which he replied:
“Yes (there are extravagance in ablution), even if you are on the bank of a flowing river.”
In reality, there are still some Muslims who ignore this guideline. Hussain Lootah, the director-general of Dubai Municipality said that almost 35,100 liters of water are used by a single person during ablution every year in Dubai.
The mosques are working together with the municipality to replace the conventional taps with the new modified ones to address this concern.
These new taps, called ‘Dubai Taps’, have a flow rate of just 1.41 liters per minutes as compared to 6.5 liters per minute in a standard ablution tap.
With these, up to 80 percent of the current water usage for ablution could be reduced to 7,614 liters and saving an estimated 27,486 liters (27.5 cubic meter) of water per person every year.
A minute adjustment, yet a huge difference and impact for nature.
Have a company, Jesus
Berlin Cathedral was built in 1905 and stands on Museum Island right in the center of the city. Interestingly, Jesus is not alone in the building. On the roof, just under the cupola, around 30,000 honey bees make it their home.
This Protestant church is participating in “Berlin is buzzing!” initiative, a brainchild of biologist Corinna Hoelzer and her husband, giving room for the bee population to be preserved.
For the record, bees and other pollinators have been on the decline for more than a decade. This statistic is worrying since a significant part of the human diet comes from plants pollinated by bees.
“Bees have no problem living in a high altitude such as here on the cathedral’s rooftop since they just need water and a supply of food,” beekeeper Uwe Marth told Bloomberg.
A combination of factors namely insecticides, parasites, disease, climate change and lack of diverse food supply have been blamed for causing the decline of the bee population.
Spiritual energy? Here’s a bonus: electrical energy
Mumbai’s Ayyappa Temple has been exemplary for the whole country in term of India’s growing garbage crisis.
Holding on to the idea of transforming their liability to become an asset, this Hindu temple, which is dedicated to Lord Ayyappan, set up a biogas plant and solar panels to generate and store electricity.
All the wet garbage consisting of food waste and floral waste first gets treated through composting. This process releases methane gas which was later converted into electricity using a biogas digester.
The electricity produced is stored in a generator with the help of solar panels.
According to one of the temple’s trust members, Harish Mistry, “The project is not only supplying power to the temple’s community hall but is also providing gas for cooking.”
“We save money on cooking gas and transporting kilos of waste to the nearby dumping yard.”
“Presently we are in the conceptual stages of trying to work out different options. By recycling the wastewater and generating electricity we want to put forward a strong message of sustainability,” said Girish Nair, another trustee.
“The whole idea is to make the temple a role model and encourage different communities to adopt simple ways of liquid and solid waste management,” he added.
Saving the earth: Interfaith effort
The number of such noble initiatives keeps increasing all over the world.
With all the devastating impact on the world from the destruction of nature, all the religions are digging into their sacred books, looking for divine inspiration to get the religious community participating in sustainability efforts.
However great is their effort, it could not create a significant impact without your participation. These religious figures and institutions could initiate something, and it is you who shall make the difference.