Why Muslims are marching for climate

(CNN)From the cropless farmer to the beleaguered first responder to the person forced to evacuate their flooded home, we all have our reasons for caring about climate change. As an Indonesian-born Muslim living in California, it is my faith that compels me to protect our earth.

For many people like me who cherish tolerance and clean air, the first 100 days of the Trump presidency have not been easy. As a Muslim immigrant to America, it has been painfully frustrating to witness the Trump administration reinforce xenophobia against both immigrants and Muslims.
As someone whose faith is bound up with combating climate change, it hurt to see Trump impose an executive order that effectively denies the impacts of climate change I have seen with my own eyes.
    Frustration must never lead to resignation, however: that is why, on Saturday, I and many other Muslims will be marching in Washington, D.C. in solidarity with thousands of others for our climate and the protection of the vulnerable.
    Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) leaves Muslims like me in no doubt as to the duty we humans share: “God has made the Earth green and beautiful, and He has appointed you as stewards over it,” he said. There is no greater threat to our “green and beautiful” Earth than the more frequent and intense droughts, floods and storms brought by climate change.
    Muslim-majority countries around the world are some of the most severely affected by climate change impacts like heat waves, floods, droughts and extreme weather events like the recent famine in Somalia, which has led to more than 16 million people facing food shortages and death.
    Many Muslims live in parts of the world that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, such as Bangladesh and parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Pakistan is another country that is extremely short of freshwater resources. With a continuously increasing of climate crisis, the water availability has decreased severely, which then placed the country as water scarce nation and in turn it will have an adverse influence on poverty.
    Maldives is another Muslim-majority country that could become the first in history to be completely erased by the sea level rise at the turn of the century.
    And with last year’s COP 22 taking place in Morocco, the responsibility has shifted to the governments of Muslim majority countries and their religious leaders to step up and play their role in the growing grassroots movement accross Muslim communities around the globe, to reverse the effects of climate change.
    That means phasing out greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, shifting away from fossil fuels to clean sources of energy, including urging the Muslim petropowers and oil-producing nations to take the lead in the transition toward renewable energy based development. (Rich and oil states should phase out their emissions by the middle of the century and provide generous support to help the poor nations to combat climate change).
    The consequences of climate change are already having significant and costly affects on our communities, our health and our ecosystem. Globally, 2014, 2015 and 2016 were the three hottest years on record. From January to March 2017, the US experienced five billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, a national record that killed 37 people. Climate change likely worsened the impact of Colorado’s deadly 2013 floods and has exacerbated droughts in California. Of course, it is always the poor and vulnerable who are impacted most.
    These facts and figures are no abstractions for me. In February 2007 I was in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, as the city was paralyzed by severe flooding — the worst in its history — that inundated about 70 percent of the city, killed a number of people, cut off the highway connecting to the country’s major airport and sent about 450,000 fleeing their homes.
    In January 2014, a couple years after I moved to the US, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a “drought state of emergency” due to ongoing water shortfalls following the driest calendar year in state history. He asked Californians to cut their water usage by at least a fifth. As a California resident, I witnessed first hand firefighters battling a wildfire in San Diego County during the severe Santa Ana Wind and heat wave in 2016.
    I am not alone. Muslims — and indeed the majority of Americans outside the White House — are united on the urgency of the issue of climate change. In August 2015, I witnessed over 80 global Muslim leaders from over 20 countries release the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change in Istanbul, urging world governments to phase out fossil fuels and make a transition to renewable energy to tackle climate change.
    In December of that year, by signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, almost 200 governments set a path to do just that. The Global Muslim Climate Network, of which I am chair, is also doing its part to encourage more Muslims to focus on solutions and take concrete actions, such as running their local mosques on solar energy.
    By seeking to undermine the Paris Agreement, which the Trump administration could do if it decides to formally withdraw or which arguably it is already doing by seeking to eradicate climate regulations and funding for climate science research — Donald Trump and his administration are reneging on a promise to have the interests of the vulnerable and forgotten at heart.
    Together with his divisive rhetoric against Muslims and immigrants, Trump represents a potentially disastrous departure from the inclusive and multicultural American society that I love.

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    Saturday’s People’s Climate March reminds me of a verse in the Holy Quran that says, “We have created you into different nations and tribes so that you may come to know one another.” This march — images of which will be shared around the world — is a demonstration of how people are coming together to tackle one of the fiercest humanitarian and moral challenges humanity has ever faced.
    Muslims, including Muslim faith leaders and Imams, will be marching shoulder to shoulder with thousands of people of all faiths and those who ascribe to none.
    I’ll be marching to show President Trump that I will not allow him to claim to represent the vulnerable while slashing the legislation that is designed specifically to protect them. I will not allow him to claim to represent the forgotten while he stokes further divisions within American society. We will already have achieved a lot in the fight against climate change — a fight whose ultimate aims are peace and joy — if we can overcome that which attempts to divide us, embrace each other and work together.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/28/opinions/muslim-world-climate-march-firman-opinion/index.html

    Bill Nye: Science made America great

    (CNN)I was proud to join thousands of concerned citizens, scientists and engineers in Saturday’s March for Science. With more than 600 marches taking place around the world, we conveyed that science is political, not partisan, and science should shape our policies.

    Although it is the means by which humankind discovers objective truths in nature, science is and has always been political. Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution refers to promoting “the progress of science and useful arts” to motivate innovators, stimulate the economy and establish just laws.
    The US has become the most powerful nation on Earth and among the greatest in history, because it has long respected and promoted science. Countless policies, from military deployments to regulations that control the formula of a shampoo, are based on science.
      Scientific research depends on government investment (approximately $65 billion in the US last year), which itself relies on a social compact: that basic research across all fields is beneficial to a nation.
      Currently, science is being actively undermined by ideological forces motivated to maintain the status quo rather than advance the nation’s long-term interest. This is especially true of the extractive fossil fuel industries. When facing tides of deliberate misinformation, scientists, engineers and researchers have taken it upon themselves to organize and raise awareness about their professions and the vital importance of the scientific enterprise.
      By marching, scientists had no choice but to engage more in the political sphere. They face staggering proposed budget cuts in energy, medical and environmental research. The denial of the accepted facts of science, along with the rejection of well-established theories — such as evolution and especially climate change — have cultivated anti-science policies that harm people, economies and our global environment.
      Science is a process that enables continual innovation, extraordinary public works, reliable transportation, and food for the world’s billions. Consider what the US has achieved in space science; the national pride and cosmic perspective of our planetary home are priceless. Science is universal. Countries around the world have followed suit and established space programs to garner similar benefits.

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      Without science, the US, any country in fact, cannot compete on the world stage. Yet today, we have a great many lawmakers, not just here but around the world, deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science. It’s another formula — a formula for disaster. Imagine your world without printed words of any kind — paper, electronic or otherwise.

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      How would your life be without electricity, let alone information technology? Consider a city with no sewers. Be thankful for antibiotics and polio vaccines. These technologies derive from our science.
      To suppress scientific discoveries such as evolution, the benefit of vaccines, or global warming apparently based on nothing but intuition will soon prove costly and fruitless — and in some heretofore-productive agricultural regions, very costly and literally fruitless. These examples and countless others are connected to policy issues, which can only be addressed competently by understanding the natural laws in play.
      As a society, we want informed citizens, who can make good judgments in the voting booth. We ignore natural laws at our peril.
      At the 600-plus Marches for Science around the world this Earth Day, we reminded everyone, our lawmakers especially, that science serves our society, and science must shape our public policies. The science marches can prove effective by prompting action. May the facts be with us.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/22/opinions/science-and-government-opinion-bill-nye/index.html

      The stakes for the French election just got higher

      St-Remy-de-Provence, France (CNN)Just days before French voters go to the polls, gunshots rang out on Thursday in Paris’ iconic Champs-Elysees. It was another jarring reminder to French voters of the high stakes and confusing choices they face in a pivotal election — one whose outcome has become impossible to predict.

      At this moment, there are few details about the killing of a police officer in the heart of Paris, and the motive is unknown, although an ISIS statement claims the shooter was one of its fighters.
      It came as the nation focused on the Sunday vote, which will be the first step in electing a new president, a decision that will have repercussions far beyond the shores of France. It will determine if the wave of nationalist populism sweeping across the globe will continue to reshape the international landscape. Or whether perhaps globalization — a dominant political and economic ideology — can survive and thrive in the 21st century.
        Once the first ballot is counted, we will have a better sense whether the European Union will endure; how Europe is likely to address its refugee issue and what lies ahead for European relations with Russia, after yet another election with signs of meddling from Moscow.
        “It’s good to have electroshock,” Lydia, a local real estate agent, told me. She wouldn’t give her last name, but said she will vote for Marine Le Pen, the far-right, anti-immigrant candidate, who seems well positioned to make it to next month’s runoff. Lydia said she doesn’t expect Le Pen to become president, but she expects a strong showing to give a jolt to the establishment and show the depth of discontent, particularly on the immigration issue.
        In storied Provence, a land of vineyards, olive groves and charming towns, it’s startling to hear this kind of discontent among the French, but the sentiment is there, and it has already upended French politics. The current President, Francois Hollande, is so unpopular that he decided not to run — the first president since World War II not to seek re-election.

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        And voters are abandoning the two mainstream parties, the Socialists and Republicans, which have dominated French politics for decades. While they have always garnered the overwhelming majority of support, this time they may not get even a quarter of the votes. In fact, the parties that until now took turns governing France may not even have a candidate in the final round.
        Voters’ dissatisfaction is difficult to understand in a country where the standard of living is among the world’s highest. But the reality is that the vast majority say their country is headed in the wrong direction.
        The French are distressed by the impact of globalization, a stubbornly sluggish economy, the growing presence of immigrants and refugees and a spate of terrorist attacks by radical Islamists that have killed hundreds and continue to threaten at every turn. Just this week, security forces disrupted what they described as yet another imminent terrorist plot in the city of Marseille.
        Incredibly, with just a few days left, almost half the voters I spoke with remain undecided. Even more surprising is the number of people who told me they will not vote at all.
        Anjelica Leconte, a 22-year-old student, said “They [politicians] are all liars and hypocrites,” explaining why she doesn’t plan to vote.
        Her boyfriend, Jeremy Entressangle, will vote. But his seemingly contradictory wavering encapsulates the emotional turmoil of the choice. He is leaning toward Marine Le Pen of the National Front, who, as mentioned before, is the far-right candidate, with a disdain for Islam and a fondness for Russia.
        But he is also considering Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far-left standard-bearer of the “France Unbowed” Party. Endorsed by the Communist Party, he proposes taxing incomes above $425,000 at 100%, essentially making that the maximum income allowed.
        Since Sunday is only the first ballot, the top two candidates will compete in a runoff on May 7. Fears of a runoff between Le Pen and Melenchon have already rattled global markets.
        But what are the chances these two emerge as the victors? Le Pen has led most of the polls, though surveys show four candidates clustered at the top. Le Pen is followed by the leading centrist in the race, 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron, the center-right Francois Fillon — who is surviving despite a scandal surrounding government payments to his wife — and Melenchon, whose meteoric rise in the past few weeks stunned the establishment.
        Experts have also warned the French to be skeptical about what they read online amid growing suggestions that Russian media and Russian-linked online operations are working to influence the election. One study showed almost one in five links shared by social media users contained fake news with signs of Russian involvement, favoring pro-Putin candidates. Of the top four, Le Pen appears to have the closest ties with Moscow, but only Macron does not support improved relations with Russia.
        And though the outcome of the election is a tossup, the odds appear to slightly favor the young up-and-comer, Macron, who has maintained a steady second, occasionally first, place in the polls.

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        Macron, a former economics minister under Hollande, last year founded his own movement, En Marche! roughly meaning “Forward!” The exclamation point gives it a force that some voters told me Macron lacks. He is the standard-bearer of the center, a position from which it is more difficult to stir up fiery passions. He supports the European Union and proposes a hazy blend of economic policies aimed at stimulating the free markets while protecting the country’s generous social benefits. And he says accepting refugees fleeing war is the country’s duty.
        Long before this election, the French had earned a reputation as chronic pessimists. This time, however, many of their fears and concerns reflect worries afflicting the rest of the world. This angst-filled nation is taking its discontent to the polls. The electoral outcome will give us a strong indication of what lies ahead — not just for Paris, but for the globe.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/20/opinions/stakes-french-election-opinion-ghitis/index.html