Displaying items by tag: Environment
The environment is currently in a dire situation. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report published on Feb 28, this year, highlighted that humanity might witness further environmental catastrophes in the coming decades as the world is expected to hit the global warming tipping point of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In other words, the world is already in a state of planetary emergency.
In the backdrop of these developments, the fasting month once again invites Muslims to not only rejuvenate their spiritual commitment toward God in terms of fasting and praying, but also enjoins them to improve their interaction with others, including the environment.
Renowned Muslim scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in his seminal work entitled Riayah al-Biah fi Shariah al-Islam (Preservation of the environment from the Shariah perspective), highlights the cardinal Islamic adage of "al-Din Muamalah" which roughly means "religion is (primarily concerned with) the treatment of others".
Although the phrase has not referred to a specific verse of the Quran or a saying of Prophet Muhammad, its spirit could be identified in many Islamic injunctions.
The hadith clearly conveys the message that merely fulfilling ritualistic obligations would not be sufficient if one is not duly observant of maintaining decent interaction with others.
Interestingly, al-Qaradawi also noted that the same applies to human interactions with nature and its elements.
Preservation of nature in all of its forms, including greening the earth by planting trees, nurturing and developing lands and prudent use of natural resources should be recognised as acts that lead a person closer to God.
Without due observance of these instructions, al-Qaradawi argues, the quality of their ritualistic deeds would remain questionable.
Reflecting on the purpose of these instructions, it should be noted with concern that during Ramadan, 10,000 tonnes of food is wasted on a daily basis.
It is estimated that around 15 to 25 per cent of all food purchased or prepared during Ramadan finds its way to the garbage bin.
This adds to the volume of food wasted every day, which comprises one-third of the overall amount of food produced daily.
Unfortunately, such a phenomenon takes place in spite of the stress on our food supply chains that has led to price hikes of food items such as chicken, vegetables and wheat flour.
While mountains of this food waste might rot away in landfills where they release methane gases and contribute to global warming, single-use plastic waste from food wrappers also exacerbate the environmental problem.
Internationally, some movements have started promoting "Green Iftar" campaigns.
Their primary aim is to educate Muslim communities in opting for sustainable and effectivebreaking-of-fast choices that are in line with Islamic ethics.
This includes using local or seasonal ingredients in food preparation in order to reduce carbon emission, judicious water usage, preparing simple meals with fewer animal products, avoiding unnecessary plastic bags or packaging by bringing one's own bag while buying meals for iftar, and making early arrangement to donate extra iftar food, especially to those in need.
Local governments and religious authorities in Malaysia may need to consider the possibility of adopting some of these instructions into policy guidelines for mosques, hotels and institutions that organise iftar throughout Ramadan.
It is critical to ensure that the spiritual month of Ramadan does not exacerbate the dire environmental crisis the world is currently facing.
The writer is acting deputy CEO, International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.
Published in: The New Straits Times, Monday 18 April 2022
SINCE 2021, we have been witnessing sharp increases in the prices of vegetables, some almost 100 per cent. The same is happening to poultry products like chicken and eggs.
The continued price hikes will have ripple effects on other items and industries. Food manufacturers and restaurants will pass the burden to the end of the supply chain — the consumers.
Some experts and institutions have urged the authorities to enforce a strict price ceiling on essential products and implement price control throughout the year, but these solutions would be effective only in the short run.
Other experts have argued that a strict price ceiling may have negative effects, such as discouraging farmers from increasing production, creating artificial shortages and diverting supply to those who are able and willing to pay above ceiling prices.
While many factors contributed to the food price hike, it is arguably a symptom of the food crisis that has been predicted to strike worldwide due to climate change. As farmers now can't predict dry or rainy seasons due to climate disruption, crops are more exposed to diseases and ruin.
Fixing the food supply chain is critical for the survival of a country like ours. More importantly, we need to reimagine our food system to build resilient food resources for the nation. Food security is achieved by balancing boosting domestic production and developing smart partnerships with other producer countries.
In fixing our broken food system, we crucially need new approaches. In the long run, it is important to develop climate-resilient agricultural strategies and practices. These include an emphasis on soil health, diversified production systems, opting for ecological design and selling to high-value direct markets.
Diversified production that can preserve soil health can mitigate climate risk throughout the growing season as it can reduce losses from weather catastrophes and phenomena. Ecological farming that allows adaptation to the local landscape and climate may offer some buffer from weather-related disturbances. Finally, selling to high-value direct markets can increase profitability while creating social capital.
It is also crucial to shorten the food supply chain in the community. Other than eliminating middlemen to allow farmers to directly market products to consumers and reduce prices, shortening the food supply chain can also be done by developing a culture of community farming.
To transform our food system, we need to shift from conventional agriculture to agroecological systems that promote sustainable consumption while addressing land and resource degradation.
Policy-level initiatives are also crucial. As climate disruption poses risks to our food system, the authorities should consider enhancing policies on crop insurance (or takaful for Muslims) for food farmers in particular.
Such financial products can stabilise farmers' income, while offering protection against yield and price risks.
In the context of climate change, the authorities, producers and consumers need to be cognisant of its impact on food systems and take measures to adapt to and mitigate them. A resilient food system is undoubtedly a lifeline for the current and future generations.
The writer is a Research Fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.
Published in: The New Straits Times, Thursday 27 Jan 2022
The idea of sustainable industrial practices through circular economy can be one of the many solutions to address environmental issues post-pandemic as it will reduce the exploitation of resources, maximise their utility, and reduce waste from landfills while minimising pollution.
A circular economy is aimed at reducing waste of resources through redesigning, reducing, repairing, reusing, refurbishing, recycling and recovering processes that will eventually allow regeneration of natural ecosystem.
Ideally, it will prevent the collection of waste in landfills and, to a certain extent, be capable of discarding existing wastes. In the post-pandemic period, there are several challenges in implementing a circular economy.
First, the government has to prioritise expenditure towards recovering public health to be resilient in current and future pandemic events; empower the support system to help affected individuals and businesses; and most importantly, revive the economy in the long run.
Therefore, to ensure the environmental recovery agenda is not left behind, the integration of long-term sustainability must be part and parcel of policy decisions.
For example, building more coal power plants is not the best long-term measure for the people, economy and the environment. Instead, adding and expanding reliable greener energy facilities is beneficial to meet current energy demand while also creating jobs and reducing pollution.
The circular economy involves, among others, the transformation of waste to energy (WTE) through incineration plants to clear landfills and recover collected wastes in the form of electricity back to industries and consumers.
Energy recovery from waste is basically the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials through a variety of processes, including combustion, pyrolisation, gasification, anaerobic digestion and landfill gas recovery, into usable heat, electricity or fuel. WTE plays an important role in sustainable waste management and reduces the reliance on fossil sources with high carbon emissions.
However, countries like Sweden and Holland exhibit incineration overcapacity, which not only used up all their landfills' wastes but now they have to import more wastes from neighbouring countries for energy generation.
From one perspective, the waste-to-energy policy and its implementation there have been successful and indicate their capability to be circular economy nations.
However, this ambitious waste-free economy will potentially impact the recycling market. Excessive incineration of waste to energy will discourage the recycling of reusable materials such as plastics, cans and papers.
Consequently, the need for more raw resources cannot be reduced due to the inability of the recycling sector to make a significant contribution. This is because the amount of waste channelled to the recycling sector and waste-to-energy incinerator is hugely disproportionate.
The reason behind this might be due to a less-complicated process in transforming waste to energy through incineration compared with recycling procedures that include the collection, transportation, sorting, cleaning and complex reprocess before new products can be produced and sold.
Despite the challenges faced by the recycling sector in most countries, it must be improved and empowered since recycling is an essential subset of a circular economy.
Therefore, waste-to-energy should not be an alternative to bypass recycling and shall not be considered as the only and easier option to eliminate waste.
The recycling sector can actually be an opportunity for industries to make a profitable business.
The producer can change the packaging and product design to create market demand for recycled materials and reduce price volatility.
Lastly, the waste sorting system must be made efficient for the long term. WTE incineration process will serve as a short-term solution to manage the waste crisis, while a good waste sorting system will favour the recycling and WTE sectors.
The increasing importance of waste sorting is further underlined since the Covid-19 pandemic saw a large increase in medical and plastic wastes.
In the future, the government must also consider adopting new technology that improves waste-sorting to protect the environment.
The circular economy strategy, which includes integrated and systemic solutions involving waste management, recycling, and WTE initiatives, will further support environmental recovery post-pandemic. Additionally, it will increase job creation and the long-term resilience of the country.
The writer is a Research Fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia
Published in: The New Straits Times, Friday 10 Dec 2021
Naturalistic intelligence (NI) develops during periods of long observation of natural patterns in the environment. This kind of intelligence matures from childhood, as people feel connected to nature. Important skills become apparent when people like naturalists, botanists and traditional medicine practitioners gain the ability to analyse natural facts, and begin exploring human and environmental relationships.........................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
Energy plays an important role in our lives. It comes in several forms that can be utilised to keep people warm during cold weather, provide food, improve transportation and increase productivity. When energy is utilised efficiently, it will bring great comfort to our lives. However, energy consumption has been increasing in recent decades as the world population keeps growing. According to the United Nations (UN) report, the current world population of 7.4 billion in 2016 is projected to increase by one billion over the next 10 years and reach 9.6 billion by 2050..........................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
It is known that every society teaches wisdom to its next generation. Wisdom makes life easier as it contains experiences, knowledge, and guides people to distinguish the truth from falsehood. The virtue of wisdom lies in one’s ability to use reason, to act wisely for himself and for his surroundings. Or, perhaps, to judge correctly at the point of decision with regard to the application of experience and knowledge........................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
The recent state visit of King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia to Malaysia significantly drew high-impact investments to the country. This includes a big investment that bolsters Malaysia’s plan to become the world’s main producer of halal vaccines by next year. A memorandum of understanding was signed between AJ Pharma, a Saudi-based pharmaceutical company under al-Jomaiah Group, and the Halal Development Corporation for an investment of US$300 million (RM1.32 billion) for facilities and infrastructure in Malaysia........................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
Keseimbangan alam semula jadi adalah elemen paling penting dalam menjamin usaha pembangunan kelestarian alam. Satu langkah bijak bagi masyarakat moden hari ini dalam menjaga keseimbangan ini adalah dengan menggunakan tenaga hijau dalam menjalani khidupan seharian.......................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
One of the best measures that modern civilisation can adopt to restore the natural balance in the environment is the use of green energy. Green energy is regarded by many to be a potential solution to our environmental crisis due to its sustainability, or its ability to meet the energy demands of global development while preserving the Earth for future generations. Implementing green energy practices can manifest in the form of transitioning from the use of conventional fossil fuel to renewable energy resources to tackle global environmental issues, such as the greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change. Such a transition addresses the root cause of these environmental hazards: the large amount of carbon emissions produced through the use of fossil fuels in power plants, the industrial sector and transport.........................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
In the future, environmental education will be increasingly important as no one wants to see the journey to sustainable environment being plagued by ignorance, nature deficit, environmental illiteracy and a selfish attitude. With the rise of environmental issues that have the potential to compromise the needs of future generations, we will need young people to be the change-makers, open to regional collaborations and proficient bearers of socio-ecological knowledge. Young people today have to be involved in environmental education programmes that foster caring communities while making a difference to our environment........................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)